With one swift stroke of his pen, this week Gov. Pritzker imposed the largest utility rate increase in Illinois history, took property rights away from land owners and cherry-picked which utilities are subject to new ethics regulations.
After two years of back-and-forth between Democrats, environmentalists and representatives of labor, the final version of a comprehensive energy bill was passed in the Senate Sept. 13, on the same day the Byron nuclear plant in Ogle County was set to go offline permanently. The final language, which was built off of several elements of legislation the Senate passed earlier in month (Senate Bill 18), was pasted into an amendment to Senate Bill 2408. The signing of SB 2408 staved off the closing of the Byron plant this week, and other nuclear plants that were set for closure later this year.
Senator Plummer said he supports a cleaner energy future for Illinois, but feels the provisions of SB 2408 go too far and place the needs of labor and environmentalists ahead of ratepayers, who will have to absorb a significant rate hike. The ultimate amount of the rate hike is unknown, and ranges from the Governor’s estimate of 80 cents per month, to an AARP analysis, which estimated monthly increases to be as high as $15 per month.
Other concerning elements of the energy bill signed on Sept. 15 include:
- Eliminates the use of fossil fuels with no plan to backfill that energy source so that blackouts/brownouts can be prevented in the future.
- Closes the Prairie State Coal Plant seven years earlier than the date listed in SB 18. This places municipalities in the Prairie State consortium on the hook for remaining debt service payments for energy they will not be receiving from Prairie State while having to also purchase energy from another source.
- Gives private companies the power to invoke eminent domain in nine counties, stretching from Pike County to Clark County, to build out new transmission lines. This sets a dangerous precedent.
- Provides nearly $700 million in ratepayer funds to bailout Exelon.
- Excludes wind power and solar power systems from the same ethical standards that traditional energy must follow.
Most elements of the new law take effect immediately.