Exelon wins nuclear bailout in biggest energy bill in two decades

Two nuclear plants on life support, and their 1,500 workers, have got at least a 10-year lease of life after their owner Exelon was able to push through a bill for ratepayer -financed subsidies to keep the money-losing facilities going.

Thanks to an ongoing stalemate between Illinois governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders, the two sides agreed to support legislation that required ratepayers (a person who pays local rates, esp a householder) statewide to pay the plants hundreds of millions dollars annually.

The bill was cleared by the House and Senate at the 11th hour 1 December on a day when the measure appeared set to fail. Exelon was however, able to salvage it after it allowed a concession, letting the bill take effect next June, which required a lower vote threshold than if it had become effective immediately.

In a statement, Gov. Rauner said, "This process shows that when all parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, we can find agreement and move our state forward."

According to Rauner, he had worked hard to pare down a bill that was far more expensive before he got involved in the legislative process a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, AARP Inc, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons said in a press release, "Today, on the last day of Veto Session, the General Assembly sent terrible news to millions of Illinois consumers as it passed Senate Bill 2814, the bill pushed by Exelon, ComEd and Ameren to bail out the nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities via a multi-billion dollar rate increase, the highest in our nation's history.

"AARP, on behalf of its 1.7 million Illinois members, is extremely disappointed at this decision, which will hurt the pocketbooks of older residents, working families, and low-income individuals, and will also hurt countless businesses across Illinois.

"It is outrageous that the General Assembly can work together to negotiate a bailout for highly profitable Exelon, but they haven't been able to negotiate a state budget for over two years, a vital budget for our state's most vulnerable citizens that need services provided for by non-profit and far less profitable agencies that are struggling to keep their doors open.

"The bill just passed by the legislature will send monthly consumer bills through the roof for the next 25 years, will impose massive cuts to low-income energy assistance programs, and even though it will supposedly save the jobs at the nuclear plants, down the road it will cost Illinois an additional 44,000 jobs.

"Illinoisans are already burdened by rising taxes and fees, including our nation's highest property tax rate, increases in other services and utilities, like the recent increases in gas, water, and sewage in Chicago, and depleted state programs. And the General Assembly is now adding an unacceptable rate increase that will change the way in which Illinois uses energy for decades to come.

"AARP will make sure our members know how their legislators voted on this issue. We urge Governor Rauner to stand on the side of residential and business consumers, and veto SB2814."