Illinois may shut down all coal-fired energy vegetation by 2035, in accordance with the proposal put to the vote this week

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – State lawmakers are about to pass what proponents call the most aggressive climate bill in the country.

Energy experts say the Pritzker government’s proposal would shut down all coal-fired power plants in the state by 2035. This plan would also phase out natural gas by 2045. They hope this will pave a new path to green energy in Illinois.

The Senators will return to Springfield on Tuesday to debate the clean energy plan. The House of Representatives wants to vote on the measure on Wednesday. Although the legislature has not yet submitted the legal texts.

Lawmakers could allocate $ 700 million over five years to the Exelon nuclear power plants in Byron, Morris and Braidwood. The Illinois Environmental Council says the plan can support workers at these plants and ensure reliable, carbon-free electricity without undue bailouts. IEC Executive Director Jennifer Walling said Exelon would receive $ 5 billion less than the utility had hoped.

“Instead of $ 560 million a year over 10 years, we’ve given them an amount that will keep the facilities open and competitive, but not add excessive profits for this company,” Walling said.

Exelon is the parent company of Commonwealth Edison. Last summer, the Chicago utility company in Springfield was embroiled in a bribery scandal involving former spokesman Mike Madigan.

Walling says communities with Exelon plants have many options to move into a renewable economy.

“Rockford can enter the renewable energy market through solar, energy efficiency, long-term economic and equity gains,” Walling said.

In search of the energy workers

The plan also provides a rights list for factory workers who were evicted during the shutdown. Proponents say it could help them find new opportunities in the energy sector. This plan could require plant owners to give employees two years’ notice before their plant closes.

However, state lawmakers and coal-fired workers say their plants shouldn’t close until 2035. They argue that the facilities are relatively new and already clean compared to others across the country.

The coal-fired power plants in Springfield and Marissa have several thousand employees and support thousands more union members. Union officials argue that if this law is passed and facilities are closed before their useful deadlines expire, it will be devastating.

“Energy policy is complex,” noted Aaron Gurnsey, president of the Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. “All we ask is more time to transition to new energy sources in a responsible way that protects workers and taxpayers.”

Get electricity from other states or buy renewables

52 lawmakers signed a letter to Governor JB Pritzker and senior legislators expressing their opposition to the early closure of the two municipal power plants. Rep. Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) says Illinois will need to source electricity from other states to compensate for the closed systems.

“It’ll likely come from Indiana coal – Indiana, Missouri, or Kentucky coal. So do we really improve the environment by replacing coal with coal? ”Murphy asked. “What we’re going to do is lose jobs in Illinois.”

However, Walling says municipal utilities need to look to the future instead of making decisions that tie them to the past. She believes now is the best time for these communities to invest in renewable resources.

“It’s much cheaper than coal or natural gas in many situations,” Walling explained. “You have the state of Iowa at almost a third of the wind at this point. These technologies grow and change. “

Over 50 lawmakers say they will not vote for a plan to allow the coal-fired power plants to run. The proposal needs a 3/5 majority in both houses to pass as lawmakers will return after the May 31 deadline.

Corporations warn of tariff increases

A large group of business organizations sent a letter to executives on Monday asking them to reconsider the plan. Over 20 business leaders argue that the proposal could mark the largest rate hike for Illinois customers and businesses in history.

“This legislation not only provides for a rate hike for low-income families in every part of this state, but also for all businesses and organizations large and small. Lobbyists for the environmental community and many others appear to have had full access to draft legislation that imposes massive costs on others, ”wrote the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Retail Merchants Association, and Municipal League, among others.

The corporate groups estimate the first installment of the price increase for businesses and local governments could be $ 700 million annually. They also found that without their contribution, customers could pay an additional $ 215 million for renewable energy programs.

However, Walling assumes that customers will have little influence on prices. She says many of these are line changes, so the real impact will come on the bill. Walling said the state will be working on several options to cut bills for consumers and businesses.

“We will see new energy efficiency opportunities for customers to lower their bills,” Walling said. “Even if you don’t use energy efficiency, your bills go down because you don’t have to build as much transmission and infrastructure. We think this is something that will be balanced and give us the ability to keep prices and bills very low in Illinois. “

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