click to enlarge The Illinois Senate adjourned Tuesday without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote. The bill includes $694 in subsidies to three nuclear plants owned by energy giant Exelon.  See article page 5.
The Illinois Senate adjourned Tuesday without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote. The bill includes $694 in subsidies to three nuclear plants owned by energy giant Exelon. See article page 5.

Legislators should oppose Exelon's current $700 million nuclear ransom demand. You can't build an energy future by bailing out the past.

Recent revelations that Exelon's business partner, EDF, is curbing its enthusiasm for the creation of Exelon's spin-off company should warn Illinois legislators about the danger of granting the recently proposed nuclear bailout. Earlier this year, Exelon announced it would be splitting off and segregating its money-losing, unprofitable nuclear reactors into a separate entity called SpinCo. EDF said it feared that a nuclear power business without the backing of Exelon's more financially stable regulated utilities could subject it to unforeseen costs.

EDF recently wrote the New York Public Service Commission stating, "The proposed spin transaction would result in a transfer of risks to EDF, Inc. and to New York's captive ratepayers....(Exelon's) petition does not adequately address this transfer of risks. As such, the commission should conduct a full review of the proposed spin transaction..."

We fully agree. If there are serious risks to New York's "captive ratepayers," there are certainly unforeseen and presently undiscussed risks to Illinois' ratepayers. Yet, Governor JB Pritzker has seen fit to "negotiate" a new $700 billion bailout gift for Exelon.

No rational person would blindly buy a house without knowing the owner, doing a pre-purchase inspection and having a written contract for review and analysis, especially if the assessed price came in way below the asking price and serious liability questions remained before the title could clear.

But in a parallel move, that is precisely what the governor and legislature are poised to do, should they approve Exelon's bailout. Handing over hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars to an entirely unknown entity not even endorsed by its own business partner seems to be, generously put, fiscally imprudent.

What was once an independent, fact-based, $350 million, five-year bailout determined by the governor-selected auditor, Synapse Energy Economics, has now doubled in size without rational justification or explanation. Another recent analysis suggests this amount could approach as high as $1 billion over time, due to fluctuations in future energy prices. Anything above the Synapse amount is political pork and nuclear ransom.

On June 10, the governor gave an interview on WBEZ FM Chicago stating that this bailout "...protects consumers and the climate...that we need to preserve our nuclear fleet and the jobs associated with that." That statement is both misinformed and wrong. Consumers are the ones left paying this nuclear ransom. Despite its lower-carbon emissions profile, nuclear power has been demonstrated to be more a detriment than benefit in the climate crisis fight, sucking up money and resources better allocated to truly renewable energy sources, energy storage and transmission improvements. These industries already account for four to five times the number of jobs in Illinois, compared to nuclear.

An enormous and qualitative difference exists between negotiation and appeasement. This proposed bailout crosses that line. Mark Twain once asked why physical courage is so common, and moral courage so rare? The governor and legislature should soon ask themselves that question.

David Kraft, director
Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

I am 78 years old, born and raised in Springfield. I have never seen any other white-owned newspaper or newsletter in this area dedicate almost all of its ink to an issue about Blacks – only the Black Springfield Chronicle, Mr. Washington's Paper, Capital City Courier or Pure News ("A guide to Juneteenth," June 10). I found it interesting, well-written and informative. I didn't know we now had so many Black-owned businesses. Thank you very much!

Carol A. Jones

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