New senate bill a last hope for Exelon passes committee

UPDATE: Exelon Senior Communications Manager Bill Stoermer confirms the bill passed out of committee at 6:53 PM on a vote of 9-1. It will now go to the full house floor.  He said there was 6.5 hours of testimony before the vote.

CORDOVA, Ill. (KWQC) – Tuesday afternoon a senate bill was introduced during the fall veto session in the Illinois legislature. Exelon views the Future Energy Jobs Bill as their last chance at a future in both the Quad Cities and Clinton, Ill.

Opponents of the bill argue it’s a bailout for the plant, but some in Cordova say it’s crucial to keeping hundreds of jobs in their community.

“When a big employer like Exelon closes their doors, it makes a big impact to everybody that lives here,” Shannon Crisp of Cordova said.

He said he’s hopeful the bill introduced Tuesday will keep that from happening.

“Hopefully we don’t lose any, the library is dependent on its tax moneys so hopefully they don’t lose a lot of revenue that they need to keep all of the community services that they have available to people who live here,” Crisp said.

While some want to keep these tax dollars in the Quad Cities area, its details included in the plan that some are taking issue with, including changes to the way people are charged for electricity.

“By limiting consumer choice, stifling the emergence of new technologies all in the name of protecting shareholder profits, so for that reason and many more we urge the general assembly to reject this bill and reject mandatory demand charges for all residential customers,” Abraham Scarr with the Illinois Public Research Interest Group said.

Exelon officials maintain that it’s about continued investment in local economies.

In a statement a company spokesperson tells KWQC, “We are pleased to see the forward momentum on the Future Energy Jobs Bill.”

The spokesperson goes on to say the legislation introduced Tuesday “reflects the work of a broad group of stakeholders to achieve comprehensive energy legislation that is urgently needed to strengthen our economy and save and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Still, some opposed to the bill believe this is just a way for Exelon to buy time.

“We also know that ComEd and Exelon are trying to rush through this massive bill and veto session and do an end run around the normal process which is to go through the Illinois Commerce Commission for rate issues,” Scarr said.

An Exelon spokesperson tells TV-6 in a statement, this is the last shot at the Quad Cities plant’s future.

“If Senate Bill 2814, The Future Energy Jobs Bill, is not enacted during the veto session, we will be forced to file the remaining licensing documents with the NRC and move forward with plans to retire Quad Cities.”

Eight-hundred people currently work at the Cordova plant and every two years, a refueling outage brings in enough workers to nearly double the workforce and pump an extra $20 million into the Quad Cities economy.

The company is also facing tax issues. Exelon was ordered to pay the IRS more than a billion dollars in back taxes and penalties. The IRS alleged Exelon dodged paying taxes owed on the sale of its power plants. The company says that ruling is without merit and it can appeal.

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