The state Senate approves the energy bill, but Exelon sets the deadline for the last passage on 13 September | MCUTimes

The state Senate approves the energy bill, but Exelon sets the deadline for the last passage on 13 September

After months of fruitless negotiations, the state Senate advanced a review of Illinois’ energy sector early Wednesday, a piece of legislation that the House’s chief Democrat said could be ready for Governor JB Pritzker to sign the law in “a few days.”

But lawmakers in parliament – who postponed Tuesday night without setting a return date – will have their work cut out for them simply to avoid a shutdown date for an Exelon nuclear power plant on September 13 and to address outstanding concerns among environmentalists, Jov Pritzker and others at the negotiating table.

It did not prevent some legislators and advocates from celebrating the energy shake in the long-defunct legislative effort.

State Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, called the bill as the Senate early Wednesday morning passed the “most complicated” legislation he has negotiated during his time in the General Assembly.

Despite the difficulty of getting the measure to the floor for a vote, the Oak Park Democrat said he believes House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Pritzker agree that lawmakers could get the energy proposal to the governor’s desk “during few days.”

State Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, shakes hands with State Senator Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, on the floor of the Senate early Wednesday.
Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP

Pritzker was not quite so sanguine.

His spokeswoman issued a statement addressing “draft errors” in the bill that had potential “unintended legal consequences” and the need to work with Parliament on final legislation “that puts consumers and the climate first.”

Exelon issued its own save date on Wednesday, arguing that it will be necessary to close the Byron nuclear power plant in less than two weeks – and the Dresden plant shortly after – unless lawmakers pass a bill in time.

“To be ready, Byron will run out of fuel and shut down permanently on September 13 unless legislation is passed,” Paul Adams, Exelon’s spokesman, said in a statement. “We have been clear that we can not refuel Byron on 13 September or Dresden in November absent political changes.”

Uncertainty about what will come next did not stop sponsoring state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, from praising the legislation as “the most equitable, diverse and inclusive bill for clean energy across the country.”

State Senator Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, center, is congratulated after the omnibus energy bill passed the Senate in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

State Senator Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, center, is congratulated after the omnibus energy bill passed the Senate in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP

Hastings said the nearly 1,000-page package includes:

  • The creation of a state-wide 100% clean energy target by 2050 and a 50% renewable energy target by 2040
  • Requires utilities to set up an Ethics and Compliance Chief to submit annual reports to the Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Requires closure of all private natural gas plants by 2045
  • And gives money to the nuclear power plants Byron, Dresden and Braidwood for five years.

Senate Republicans were largely opposed to the bill, though some voted to promote it.

Some, such as Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, took issue with the fact that the bill came up for discussion around midnight, saying “every time something externally controversial comes up in this chamber midnight.”

State Senator Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, said: “Just when you think this legislature could not make it harder for taxpayers and working families to stay in and thrive in, Illinois writes another hyperpartisan, activist bill does. worse. ”

“It’s time we stood up for working people instead of demanding that they continue to carry the burden of your waking, unrealistic agenda,” Bailey told Democrats.

State Senator Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, gives his remarks on the omnibus bill on the floor in the Senate early Wednesday.

State Senator Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, gives his remarks on the omnibus bill on the floor in the Senate early Wednesday.
Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP

“Let me ask you about this: What happens when we inevitably fail to meet our basic load energy requirements? We will have to pay more to import more dirty energy from other states. … This is insane and does nothing to make a significant difference to the environment, but it destroys further opportunities and our economy in Illinois. ”

Harmon said the legislation sends a message that “we are serious about tackling this issue in a way that makes Illinois the epicenter of the green economy.”

At a committee meeting Tuesday before the measure reached the Senate floor, environmentalists said the bill did not go far enough to put people and climate first.

“If we continue to do what we do, the planet will continue to warm up,” Juliana Pino, police director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said Tuesday. “The status quo is not sufficient to deal with the climate, nor is the current bill before us sufficient to fully address the climate we need to address for it.”

Despite the split, the legislation passed 39-16 with two voting members present.

After the Senate vote, Harmon said he “was concerned that passivity is far worse than action, even though we recognize there is more work to be done.”

“I’m worried about the people who are wondering if they should have a job tomorrow,” Harmon said. “I’m concerned about the business investment here in the state of Illinois, and I’m concerned about our climate and its impact not only on us and our children and grandchildren, but on the entire planet.”

State Senate President Don Harmon in 2017.

State Senate President Don Harmon in 2017.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

Some groups that have been at the negotiating table welcomed the progress of the legislation.

In a statement, the Road to 100 coalition, which is made up mainly of renewable energy groups, said the bill would “reverse job losses” and “make the state the national leader in growing affordable jobs in clean energy and combating climate change.”

Climate Jobs Illinois, a coalition of labor organizations, called the Senate vote a “big step forward for Illinois after several failed efforts in previous years to reach even that milestone.”

Exelon has launched plans to shut down its nuclear power plants in Byron and Dresden due to a lack of clean energy legislation.

Adams said in a statement that Exelon “has no choice but to continue preparing for the” early retirement “of these facilities, but” off-ramp “has been established that will allow us to turn around. the decision if legislators pass legislation with enough time for us to refuel the plants safely.

This 2011 photo shows steam escaping from Exelon Corp.'s nuclear power plant in Byron, Ill.

This 2011 photo shows steam escaping from Exelon Corp.’s nuclear power plant in Byron, Ill.
Robert Ray / AP file

The Exelon spokesman said the closure of these plants would result in an immediate increase in air pollution that would equate to adding 4.4 million cars to the road “as fossil fuels increase production to replace their carbon-free energy.”

House members are likely to be tasked with recasting pieces of legislation, including those dealing with the state’s solar industry, when they begin their negotiations.

In a statement after the Senate vote, a spokeswoman for Pritzker said the governor’s office looks forward to working with members of the House to finalize an energy package “that puts consumers and climate first.”

“The governor’s office is in discussions with stakeholders to ensure that Prairie State [coal plant in southern Illinois] and [Springfield’s City, Water, Light and Power’s] closure in 2045 includes real temporary emission reductions in line with previous draft bills and is required to work with the General Assembly to resolve some wording errors in the Senate bill that the governor raised during talks today because they could have unintended legal consequences, ”the spokeswoman said. said.

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