Exelon preparing to refuel Byron plant after energy bill

The Illinois Senate put the final legislative stamp on an energy regulation overhaul bill Monday, sending it to Gov. JB Pritzker, who says he will sign it.

Senate passed bill Monday

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate put the final legislative stamp on an energy regulation overhaul bill Monday, sending it to Gov. JB Pritzker, who says he will sign it.

The culmination of years of negotiation, the measure passed by a 37-17 vote.

“After years of debate and discussion, science has prevailed, and we are charting a new future that works to mitigate the impacts of climate change here in Illinois,” Pritzker said in a statement after the bill’s Senate passage. “(Senate Bill) 2408 puts the state on a path toward 100 percent clean energy and invests in training a diverse workforce for the jobs of the future. Illinois will become the best state in the nation to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle, and equity will be prioritized in every new program created.”

The final proposal forces fossil fuel plants like Rochelle’s Prairie State Energy Campus in Marissa, Illinois offline by 2045 and spends billions of dollars to subsidize renewable and nuclear energy to prevent the closure of facilities like the Byron nuclear plant.

The bill provides $694 million in total over a five-year period to subsidize three nuclear plants owned by Exelon Corporation, preventing the closure of the plant in Byron that Exelon said it would take offline Monday in the absence of legislative action. It issued a statement after the bill’s passage saying it would begin the refueling process.

Prairie State Energy Campus, which the City of Rochelle has $150 million in debt with until 2042, and another municipal coal plant had caused a stalemate, as the plants and the lawmakers within their districts pushed back on the hard 2045 decarbonization date. 

The final bill provides that the facilities must be carbon-free by 2045, and must reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2035. If they can’t, they have three years to comply or shut down part of their generation capacities to come into compliance. 

Other fossil fuel plants are required to go offline between 2030 and 2045, depending on the energy source and the level of carbon emissions. 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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