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Plug Pulled On Energy Bills

Dry casks containing radioactive waste
WUIS/Illinois Issues

With the legislative session nearing a close, the plug has been pulled on efforts to prop up renewable, coal and nuclear power.

A lot of, well, energy was put into energy policies this legislative session.

Advocates of solar and wind power came out with a plan to up demand for renewable energy. There was a last minute pitch by southern Illinois lawmakers to focus on coal.Commonwealth Edison wanted more done to the power grid. And last, but not least, Com Ed's parent company, Exelon, made a huge push at the capitol (as well as with the public; it ran TV advertisements for months persuading the public to get on its side). The corporate behemoth had threatened to shut down a trio of nuclear plants -- the stations in Byron, Clinton and the Quad Cities - that it says are losing money, unless Illinois passed a law that'd increase demand for nuclear power.

"I think what will end up happening is, we'll compromise. we'll get everybody to the table and we'll compromise on one omnibus bill," House Energy Chairwoman Linda Chapa LaVia says."So I'm pretty excited, but it's definitely going to take a little bit longer than May 31."

Chapa LaVia says she's also watching and waiting for action on the federal level that could have big effects in Illinois. That's when its expected rules will be finalized on President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. There's also a PJM capacity auction scheduled for July, which could have repercussions for Exelon's fleet.

In a statement, Exelon spokesman Paul Elsberg recently said the company continues to believe its so-called Low Carbon Portfolio Standard is needed, and says "we remain open to participating in any and all discussions designed to enact a legislative package. The session is still in progress, and we will consider next steps after it has concluded."

Elsberg did not directly respond to a question about whether the failure to pass Exelon's legislation will result in a shutting of nuclear plants, nor did he say when a decision on their future will be made.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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