Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) this afternoon will sign a bill that will force electricity customers to pay $235 million in annual subsidies to Exelon Corp., the owner of the state’s ComEd utility, to keep open two of its nuclear power plants. Rauner is signing the bill in Clinton and in Port Byron, the locations of the plants that Exelon threatened to shut down unless the state passed the bailout bill.
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“Deals like these are the exact reason Illinois saw more people leave the state than any other state in the country in 2015. The people of Illinois have suffered long enough under the weight of unfunded pension liabilities and bad deals negotiated by crony capitalists seeking to line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers and ratepayers. Unfortunately, this ‘deal’ means they will suffer a little more.”
“Once again politicians in Illinois have shown themselves to be beholden to powerful corporations, putting the desire for ever greater profits of the very profitable, politically connected corporation, Exelon, ahead of the needs of Illinois taxpayers and ratepayers. Illinoisans will be paying more for energy, and Illinois businesses will face higher costs and become less competitive, all so Exelon can garner hundreds of millions if not billions over time, in subsidies. Renewable power interests also get their payoff as well to keep them from fighting the subsidies for Exelon.
“At a time when legislators and the governor should have been focusing on the state’s budget shortfall and fixing the process for funding government, it instead devoted its time to throwing unnecessary millions to one of the most profitable companies in the world. And in a perverse bit of grandstanding, the governor is even holding a press conference to ‘celebrate’ the bill’s signing.
“Admittedly, Exelon’s nuclear plants were operating at a competitive disadvantage with renewable power sources due to the state’s foolish and costly mandate to use electric power from expensive, unreliable wind and solar power sources. However, the fix to that problem was to end the renewable mandate, not throw good money after bad with subsidies for nuclear plants and even more support for renewables.
“I suspect for every nuclear plant job saved by this bill, multiple others will be lost as businesses tighten their belts and lay employees off to cover their higher energy bill, and as ratepayers have less to spend on other goods as their power costs increase.”
“The multi-million-dollar bailout of Exelon should not be celebrated. The new mandate would benefit one energy company at the expense of others and represents crony capitalism at its worst. The government should not decide winners and losers in any market. Gov. Rauner is only approving a transfer of taxpayer dollars to an energy company that will repay taxpayers’ kindness with a rate hike. Some deal for Illinois!”
“The Future Energy Jobs Bill, the euphemistic name of the $10+ billion Exelon bailout, will kill as many jobs as it ‘saves’ (if not more) and will make Illinois’ electricity less reliable and more expensive. It is a perfect example of the problem Bastiat laid out 150 years ago about the ‘seen against the unseen.’ The benefits – those roughly 1,000 Exelon employees who get to keep their jobs – are easily seen and easy to comprehend. However, the costs, the unseen, are widely dispersed and are harder to notice. But make no mistake, there are costs: increased electric bills for residents and businesses, more than $400 million in lost tax revenue, the disappearance of more than $14 billion in economic activity, and possibly the disappearance of 44,000 jobs.
“I am no enemy of nuclear power, but nuclear power deserves to succeed or fail on its own merits, just as solar, wind, coal, natural gas, etc. should do likewise. This bill is a mistake and against the best interests of the people of Illinois. It’s unfortunate that Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly fail to see that which is unseen.”