From stste Senator Craig Wilcox:
Senate to vote on new energy bill on Monday
The Illinois Senate is back in Springfield today (Monday, Sept. 13) to consider a new version of a comprehensive energy bill. We will take action on legislation passed by the House of Representatives late in the evening on September 9.
Building off work done in the Senate the previous week, the proposal – now contained in Senate Bill 2408 – includes many of the same sweeping provisions from the original Senate legislation, Senate Bill 18. As you may recall, I was a “present” vote on SB 18 last week.
The vote signified my belief that the bill was headed in the right direction and that with a bit more work the legislation could become something I could support. Unfortunately, the text of the new bill went in the other direction and I will be voting “no” when it comes before us this afternoon. [Emphasis Added.]
I am 100% in support of a cleaner energy future for Illinois and I cannot discount that there are several positive components of the bill. I am especially pleased to know that nuclear plants in Northern Illinois will remain operational and that a significant investment is being made in renewables. However, it is clear that the final legislation was drafted to placate labor unions and environmental lobbyists, with absolutely no consideration whatsoever given to ratepayers and to communities that rely on coal-based energy. This legislation includes no plan to backfill energy lost when coal plants close, leaving several communities, including many in the 32nd District, open to blackouts/brownouts in the future.
I believe firmly that a path to carbon-free energy and increased renewables exists that does not create overt financial hardship for ratepayers. But in the end, and at the expense of rank-and-file Illinois residents, politics was the driving force behind the final bill language. Other concerns I have with this new energy package include:
- Creates the largest utility rate increase in Illinois history.
- Closes the Prairie State Coal Plant seven years earlier than the date listed in SB 18. This places several Illinois municipalities on the hook for remaining debt service payments for energy they will not be receiving from Prairie State while having to also purchase energy from another source. The result will be a significant tax increase for residents in those communities.
- Gives private companies the power to invoke eminent domain in nine counties, stretching from Pike County to Clark County, to build out new transmission lines. This is a dangerous precedent. Eminent domain laws are not meant to extend to private companies.
- Gives nearly $700 million in ratepayer funds to bailout Exelon.
- Excludes wind and solar from the same ethical standards that traditional energy must follow.
SB 2408 passed the House by a vote of 83 to 33.