Senate passes controversial energy bill

After almost two years of negotiations on comprehensive energy legislation, the Illinois Senate approved a massive overhaul of Illinois’ energy sector during the early hours on Wednesday morning.

Senate Bill 18, which contained the language, was called around 1:00 a.m. while must Illinoisans were asleep, and passed the Senate with a 39-16 vote.

The nearly 1,000-page bill contained several sweeping provisions that will have both short-term and long-term effects on the state’s energy portfolio, including:

• Gives nearly $700 million in taxpayer funds to bailout Exelon
• Creates the largest utility rate increase in Illinois history
• Requires the closure of all private-owned natural gas facilities by 2045.
• Requires the closure of all private-owned coal plants by 2030.
• Closes the Prairie State coal plant in Southern Illinois and the CWLP coal plant in Central Illinois in 2045.
• Gives private companies the power to invoke eminent domain in seven counties, stretching from Pike County to Clark County, to build out new transmission lines.
• Excludes wind and solar from the same ethical standards that traditional energy must follow

As the bill stands, it is estimated to raise rates for residential utility customers by approximately 4 percent and 7 percent for industrial utility users.

While the energy package may have passed in the Illinois Senate, it is still far from becoming law. The Illinois House adjourned session before taking up Senate Bill 18, and Gov. Pritzker issued revisions and additions he wanted before agreeing to sign the bill. This has left nuclear proponents concerned that a final package may not be signed into law before Exelon shuts down the Byron Generating Station, which is scheduled for decommission on Sept. 13.

Dale Fowler

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