Best Options for Potential Nuclear Power Plant Closings in Illinois

Published May 26, 2015

Exelon claims three of its Illinois nuclear power plants are uneconomical and has asked the Illinois legislature to allow it to force ratepayers to pay more to keep them operating. The authors of a new Heartland Policy Brief say that would be a mistake.

Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor and Policy Analyst Taylor Smith analyze the issues and conclude the best option for Illinois taxpayers and electricity consumers is to allow uneconomical power plants to close and allow the most economical power options to replace them under free competition.

This report is particularly timely and important considering the introduction of legislation that would impose low-carbon power mandates on the Illinois electricity market. While such legislation would enable Exelon to earn higher profits on its nuclear power plants, it also would impose higher electricity costs on Illinois families and businesses without producing any offsetting social or environmental benefits.

Existing renewable power mandates already force expensive power options on Illinois consumers, unnecessarily driving up electricity prices throughout the state. Allowing Exelon’s uneconomical nuclear power plants to shut down and more economical power plants to take their place is the right thing to do. Better yet, the existing renewable power mandates should be softened or repealed altogether in light of new evidence that the “social cost of carbon” is less than the social cost of renewable energies.