Illinois legislators’ latest package may save nuclear, coal power plants in state

Staff and Wire Reports

Illinois state leaders are close to possibly approving a $700 million subsidy to keep several nuclear power plants operating.

A new bill, approved by the state house and senate, makes the nuclear fleet a key part of the plan to reach net zero carbon emissions in power generation by 2050. This includes keeping carbon-free nuclear generation in the mix, while also increasing renewable energy projects.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, was not happy with a previous version approved by the Senate but said he would likely sign the new version if the Senate accepts the House’s changes. The compromise also calls for keeping some coal-fired plants–with stricter emissions equipment in place–in operation at least into the next decade and maybe even longer to avoid major job losses.

The Illinois Senate took up the new bill Monday and approved it.

In July, Exelon filed its decommissioning plan with federal regulators. The utility plans to close its Byron and Dresden (pictured) nuclear power plants in Illinois as early as this month, short of a new deal to help improved reactor plant economics.

Byron Nuclear Generating Station was commissioned in the 1980s, while Dresden began commercial operations in the 1970s.

The state also is dealing with a bribery scandal related to a previous legislative effort on subsidizing nuclear plants. Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to a deferred prosecution deal and is paying a $230 million fine related to the probe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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