The nuclear Braidwood Generating Station, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Will County, is one of three nuclear plants Exelon said it would close if it didn’t reach a deal with the Legislature last year.
Sometimes a shock from electricity can be a good thing.
ComEd customers are going to get an unexpected payout of $1 billion, yes billion, from the state’s nuclear plants. We’d like to see more of the kind of foresighted negotiation by government and advocates that brought this about.
Last year, Chicago-based Exelon said it would close the Byron, Dresden and Braidwood nuclear plants unless it got financial help from the state. In February, Exelon spun off its power generation subsidiary into a stand-alone company named Constellation.
The threat to close the plants came amid an effort to pass legislation to require the use of more renewable energy in Illinois.
During the negotiations, supporters of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in September, agreed to help keep the nuclear plants open because they are needed to provide zero carbon energy until the state can ramp up production of renewable energy, such as solar and wind. CEJA requires Illinois utilities to get 40% of their power from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030.
At the time, negotiators expected — based on existing prices — that customers would pay some $700 million to keep the nuclear plants going. That would have been a lot of money to fork over, but it was necessary to get a deal on moving the state away from fossil fuels.
Instead, ratepayers will get a return of $1 billion.
Illinois had renewable energy legislation and a nuclear bailout before in 2016’s Future Energy Jobs Act. Here’s what was different this time. Generally unnoticed by the public, environmental and consumer advocates and Pritzker’s team included a guardrail that said if electricity prices shot up to a certain level — putting more money in the pockets of nuclear plant operators — consumers would get money back.
And customers will get money back, in a big way.
According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the credit will lower ComEd consumers’ bills by about $19.71 a month, saving the average family $237 per year. The savings will be higher in the summer, lower in the winter. ComEd only distributes the electricity, but it passes on the cost of generation in its bills to ratepayers.
The total savings will come to about $1 billion. When is the last time consumers got a billion dollars from anyone?
Here’s why the timing is so significant.
Starting earlier this year, already-high electricity prices began climbing due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In response to the invasion, Europe is trying to wean itself off Russian natural gas, and the United States …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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