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Will Saving Nuclear Plants Spike Electric Rates? Depends Who You Ask ...

nuclear cooling tower
Adam Winsor
flickr.com/avius (CC-BY-NC)
Opponents say market forces will continue hurting nuclear power, without or without a subsidy from Illinois ratepayers.

Illinois legislators are considering whether to approve an energy deal on behalf of power company Exelon. Without it, the corporation says it will close its nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.

Exelon says there are about 1,500 workers between the two plants — plus thousands of other local jobs that would be affected.

Exelon vice president David Fine says the average ComEd residential customer would see her bill go up by less than 25 cents a month over the 10 years of the deal. "And in the first couple years," Fine says, "we anticipate there'll actually be a savings — a rate decrease."

But Julie Vahling, with AARP, says this is "possibly one of the largest utility rate hikes" in American history. "The billions in profits that Exelon and Commonwealth Edison continue to report are reason enough that consumers should not be asked to bail these successful corporations out," she says.

Also opposed are energy-intensive industries, like chemical and manufacturing plants, which say the deal would jack up their costs — undercutting one of the few things Illinois has going for it.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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