On Friday, thousands of Quad Citizens woke up to the news that the Exelon’s Quad Cities Generating Station will continue to provide power for the foreseeable future. Their careers are safe in and our community will continue to be blessed with this extraordinary regional business. The Illinois General Assembly reached agreement on the Future Energy Jobs Bill (FEJB). This legislation will expand energy efficiency programs, commit more funding for low-income programs, and ensure stable and predictable funding for the development of renewable energies, including new wind and solar. Additionally, the bill will provide for job training, create thousands of clean energy jobs, and preserve the competitive electric rates which are a direct benefit to businesses and residents alike. Illinois will likely become a national leader in predictable clean energy as a result of this transformative legislation.
Lesser outcomes might have cost the Quad Cities and Illinois thousands of good-paying jobs, stripped our local schools and governments of precious tax revenues and impacted our economy at every level. Instead, we are the beneficiaries of hard work and exceptional leadership. Our Illinois legislators, labor unions, the private sector, and our community, worked together for the common good to mold a legislative package that does much more than “save Exelon.” This legislation protects 4,200 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic activity generated annually by Exelon. It levels the playing field and eliminates nuclear energy’s competitive disadvantage, hardly a bailout. While other forms of clean energy such as wind and solar receive production incentives, nuclear is the only clean energy which doesn’t receive any, despite the fact that over 90 percent of Illinois’ clean energy and half of all energy production is nuclear.
Exelon Quad Cities’ bright future will ripple through our communities, industry, and the environment. We are a manufacturing center; it’s 20 percent of our economy. Manufacturers spend 15-25 percent of their production costs on energy. Securing Exelon directly helps local manufacturers to keep energy costs stable and predictable.
Just as important, Rock Island County governments and the school systems in the Illinois Quad-Cities have been saved from a crushing loss in operating funds. Exelon is the largest property taxpayer in Rock Island County, paying about $8 million each year. Their tax dollars support essential services for residents and provide much needed funding for our school districts in Rock Island County. At a time when the Rock Island County Board and our school boards are wrestling with budgetary challenges, it is hard to imagine the devastating impact the loss of this revenue would have on taxpayers and students alike had the bill not passed.
As a regional organization committed to growing jobs, increasing corporate investments, and advocating for responsible regulations and policies, the Quad Cities Chamber has been laser focused on this legislation since the start. We organized local businesses and members of the community to show lawmakers that the Quad-Cities was committed to Exelon. We helped rally support for the bill by working with organizations not only in the region, but throughout Illinois.
We thank our Illinois elected officials for standing up to support a major employer and the hundreds of employees who strive every day to make our Quad Cities a great place to live and work. Thanks specifically to Senator Neil Anderson, and Reps. Pat Verschoore, Mike Smiddy and Don Moffitt for their leadership and tenacity. And thank you to our labor unions, mayors, county board members and others who advocated on behalf of the Quad-Cities economy.