Exelon is a key employer within our region, and the energy it produces is vital to Illinois and our bi-state region. Last week, Exelon announced that it will retire the Clinton plant in 2017 and the Cordova plant in 2018 if the Illinois legislature and governor are unable to pass the Next Generation Energy Plan this year.
We commend the entire Quad Cities delegation of elected officials for their support of the Next Generation Energy Bill, and urge the many other elected officials throughout the State to do the same.
Exelon employs over 900 people at a median annual salary exceeding $70,000. While the number of jobs is critical to our economy, we are equally concerned about the quality of jobs on the line. At a time when the Quad Cities is staking its claim as a high value place to live, strong middle-class incomes are crucial in creating a market capable of attracting and sustaining the types of community amenities and services that make this a great place to live. Exelon is also the largest property tax payer in Rock Island County and its loss would be a significant blow at a time when we are already seeing Rock Island County officials make hard choices to make ends meet.
Finally, during the Quad Cities Chamber’s recent advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., the Pentagon verified that “energy security” would be a condition for the next BRAC, meaning that Exelon’s operation would help strengthen the Rock Island Arsenal’s assessment.
Nuclear energy is crucial to Illinois’ economic future. Though the timing isn’t yet certain, most economists and politicians agree that a federal low-carbon standard is inevitable. That means Illinois will need to reduce its carbon footprint and rely more on clean energy, such as nuclear. Currently, 48% of Illinois’ produced and consumed energy is nuclear, second after coal. All other clean sources contribute a total of approximately 5% of Illinois’ energy, meaning it will be impossible to meet any low-carbon standards without nuclear energy.
The Next Generation Energy Plan can make Illinois a leader in clean energy and put the State out ahead of an upcoming issue. Far too often our communities suffer when Springfield delays dealing with important issues like pensions, REAL ID, infrastructure funding, and the budget. Let’s urge them to act now to pass the Next Generation Energy Plan.