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General Assembly, Governor Agree To Electric Rate Hike

nuclear cooling tower
Adam Winsor
flickr.com/avius (CC-BY-NC)

The Illinois General Assembly is allowing electric utilities to collect more money from customers. It's part of a deal in which Exelon Corporation has agreed not to close nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities for at least ten years.

Exelon says those two nuclear plants are no longer profitable. But that's not the case for the company overall. Last year it reported net income of $2.25 billion dollars.

That did not sit well with opponents, who call the rate hike a "bailout."

Mark Batinick — a Republican state representative from Plainfield — says too many colleagues have misplaced priorities, especially given the havoc resulting from the failure to enact a balanced budget.

"So we’re going to subsidize a company so they can sell their power out of state," Batinick says. "That’s supposed to be more important than social services? Than higher education? Than everything else?"

Supporters of the subsidy say it'll save the jobs of 1,500 men and women at the two plants, and thousands more at local businesses.

There's a complicated formula meant to protect residential ratepayers, capping fees to save the nuclear plants at an average of 25 cents per month. Critics say there are loopholes that could lead to higher bills.

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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