The possibility of Exelon closing three of its six nuclear facilities in the state due to financial reasons has six Illinois mayors worried.
In a letter sent earlier this month to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders, the mayors of Braceville, Clinton, East Moline, Marseilles, Morris and Oregon said the premature closure of Exelon's Byron, Clinton and Quad Cities plants could deal an economic blow to their communities.
"Illinois nuclear facilities provide thousands of good jobs; the kind of jobs you can support a family on," reads the letter from the mayors. "Part of the upcoming debate in Springfield should focus on what these plants mean to their host communities. From our firsthand perspective, we can tell you that Illinois' nuclear facilities are essential to helping our communities thrive."
Chicago-based Exelon, the parent company of ComEd, claims its Byron, Clinton and Quad Cities plants in the state are struggling in part because of competition from natural gas and subsidized renewables. The nuclear giant has warned that the three plants could close prematurely if measures are not put in place by state lawmakers to help boost its supposedly unprofitable facilities.
A report issued last month by four state agencies exploring what the possible nuclear plant closures could mean for the economy and environment outlined "potential market-based solutions" to lift up the ailing facilities.
Such solutions include reliance on "existing competitive forces and pending market changes," establishment of a cap and trade policy for carbon emissions, a tax on carbon emissions and the creation of a "low-carbon portfolio standard" or a "sustainable power planning standard."
Environmentalists are urging against a potential state "bailout" for Exelon, saying the lawmakers should instead focus investments on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Read Progress Illinois coverage of Exelon's possible plant closures here and here.