Nuclear Matters Statement on Illinois Future Energy Jobs Bill

Washington, D.C.– December 1, 2016 – Nuclear Matters today issued the following statement on the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill:

“The passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill is a major step forward for Illinois.  By voting in favor of this important legislation, the Illinois General Assembly has demonstrated commendable foresight in terms of protecting valuable environmental and economic benefits for the state’s residents.  We thank the legislative leaders and Governor Rauner for their leadership on this critical issue and look forward to the Governor signing this bill into law as expeditiously as possible to ensure that the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear energy plants continue operating and to cement these important benefits.

Contrary to the suggestion of some, this is not a bailout, but rather is a smart investment in working families, new job expansion, and our clean energy future.  The State of Illinois is finally levelling the playing field by allowing nuclear energy facilities to compete with other carbon-free energy resources in the state to meet the requirements of the zero emissions standard established by the bill and, in doing so, will maintain the state’s largest clean energy source.

The environmental contributions that nuclear energy brings to Illinois are substantial. Illinois’ nuclear energy facilities account for the lion’s share – 90 percent – of Illinois’ carbon-free power.  The carbon-free electricity that they provide prevents nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released annually.  This is equivalent to taking more than 15 million cars off the road.  If two of these plants were to close, consumers would face nearly $1 billion in costs annually to address the resulting increases in carbon and other pollutants, according to a State of Illinois report.  Fortunately, this legislation paves the way for maintaining these important environmental benefits.

The value that Illinois’ nuclear plants bring to the economy of Illinois is equally compelling.  By preserving the two economically challenged nuclear facilities in the state, Illinois’ leaders are preserving 4,200 good-paying jobs, $1.2 billion in annual economic contributions, and tens of millions of dollars they contribute in state and local taxes. Customers will also be saved from substantial electricity cost increases by keeping the plants open.  In fact, according to a recent Brattle Group report, if these plants were retired, consumers would pay an additional $3.1 billion over the next ten years in electricity costs.

Other states confronting similar challenges to the continued operation of their nuclear facilities would be wise to look to the action by Illinois’ legislature today.”