Exelon wants ratepayers to pay more for all Illinois reactors

Exelon wants its ratepayers to bail out not only its uneconomic Byron reactors, but all of its 11 reactors in Illinois.

Exelon wants its ratepayers to bail out not only its uneconomic Byron reactors, but all of its 11 reactors in Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune this afternoon published an article indicating that the nation’s largest nuclear power utility, Exelon, is seeking to have its Illinois ratepayers pay more for all of its 11 reactors in the state, not just the six the company has identified as losing money.

That’s right: Exelon isn’t content to just try to right its ship, it wants to bilk Illinois ratepayers out of every penny it possibly can.

At least some in the Illinois legislature appear to be willing to go along. According to the article, Exelon itself announced that “Illinois lawmakers are currently drafting legislation that would help the state adhere to new federal rules aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions.”

That seems innocuous enough; of course Illinois legislators are drafting such legislation–that’s going to have to happen in every state once the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions is in effect.

Until one reads down and learns that “Joseph Dominguez, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Exelon, said it is too early to release details of what that legislation would look like.” Which brings up the obvious question: who is actually drafting the legislation–elected officials or Exelon? The answer is all too obvious as well.

More than any other nuclear utility in the country, Exelon is pinning its hopes–perhaps its entire future–on the EPA’s proposal and the willingness of the state legislature to overlook the fact that uneconomic nuclear reactors are not exactly a treasured state asset and, more importantly in the context of the proposal, are not needed to meet Illinois’ carbon target.

In fact, unnecessary rate hikes to keep ancient reactors running would crowd out investment in the cleaner, safer and more affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies easily deployable in Illinois. Of course, as the nation’s leading opponent of wind power and other renewables, that’s exactly what Exelon wants.

Not all in the Illinois legislature are going to go along with Exelon’s scheme. Indeed, there is likely to be a pitched battle over the issue. One key factor will be the state’s large power users: will they back Exelon even if it means unnecessarily higher electricity rates? History in other states suggests not, and that could spell trouble for Exelon, which seems to have run out of any other options for keeping its uneconomic reactors operating.

In other Exelon news, the company yesterday announced that it is buying the retail electricity seller Integrys Energy Services for $60 million. That company provides electricity–including renewably-generated electricity–to 720,000 people in Chicago. Once finalized, the purchase means that Chicagoans will have two options for their electricity: they will be able to buy from Exelon’s ComEd subsidiary or Exelon’s Constellation Energy subsidiary.

Perhaps Illinois regulators should examine whether the purchase really meets the intent of the state’s deregulation law, which was intended to encourage competition in the electricity marketplace.

Michael Mariotte

July 31, 2014

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/07/31/exelon-wants-ratepayers-to-pay-more/

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2 thoughts on “Exelon wants ratepayers to pay more for all Illinois reactors

  1. Jo Kirkpatrick

    Is there evidence of “power watchdog” groups in Illinois? I mean, we have one in Idaho.
    When you post about Exelon’s latest exploitation efforts, it would help to hear about the opposition, if any.

    1. Michael Mariotte Post author

      yes, we work with a number of groups in Illinois (certainly more than in Idaho!). Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) is a statewide organization based in Chicago; and there are a number of other groups around the state that will be working on this. We will be supporting them in every way possible.


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