The Illinois House of Representatives returned to session in Springfield on Thursday, September 9. On the agenda was a comprehensive energy bill dealing with various facets of Illinois’ energy and electricity supplies. The bill action followed notification to Illinois by Exelon, the operator of nuclear power plants in northern Illinois, that several of its fleet of nuclear plants were unprofitable and, without action by the General Assembly, would soon be decommissioned. This news threatened the operation of two Illinois nuclear power plants, Byron and Dresden. Exelon asked the General Assembly for state regulatory relief so that these two plants could remain open.
Senate Bill 2408 included significant pieces of energy and climate policy, and there were good reasons for many Illinois House members to vote “no” against the controversial measure. The regulatory relief to keep the Byron and Dresden nuclear plants will add to the electric bills paid by Illinois consumers. Furthermore, the legislation was crafted in such a way as to scale down, and eventually close, most or all of the electricity carbon-burning infrastructure of Illinois. Current Illinois plants that burn coal or natural gas to generate power would have to shut down. This could be seen as threatening not only Illinois’ energy security, but also the jobs of men and women who work at these plants. Furthermore, this bill would do nothing to affect the continued operation of coal-and-gas-fired plants in neighboring U.S. states, which Illinois will have to turn to for electricity since the state’s renewable energy technology and infrastructure do not generate enough to meet demand.
Despite these concerns, the Illinois House passed SB 2408 by a vote of 83-33-0. After Senate concurrence, Governor Pritzker SB 2408 was signed into law on Wednesday, September 15.