Mitchell, Rose and local officials discuss efforts to protect the future of the Clinton Power Station

With the future of the Clinton Power Station in question, area legislators and local officials met in Clinton Thursday to discuss efforts to protect the continued safe operation of the nuclear plant.

State Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is backing legislation that would provide a market-based solution to protect the future of the Clinton Power Station and other nuclear plants in Illinois.

“The Clinton power plant is a major economic engine for Central Illinois,” Mitchell said. “Families throughout the area depend on it for good-paying jobs and our schools and other units of local government receive significant tax revenues from the plant. Not only are the jobs important, but with Illinois’ nuclear plants producing about half of our state’s power, this is about maintaining our energy independence.”

Representative Mitchell is sponsoring House Bill 6561, legislation that would help reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy and maintain affordable, reliable electricity for consumers and businesses. In addition, the measure would ensure the continued operation of the state’s nuclear power plants, which are responsible for nearly half of all electricity produced in Illinois.

“The Clinton Power Station is vital to not only DeWitt County’s economy, but to all of Central Illinois,” State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said. “There are 1900 direct and indirect jobs at stake here in Clinton and its surrounding communities - not to mention the prevention of massive rate hikes on consumers for all of downstate Illinois. A shutdown of the Clinton Power Station would not only devastate this region, but impact everyone across Illinois. 50 percent of electricity in our state comes from nuclear power. So, the closure of any plant would increase electric rates for every Illinoisan and serve to only hasten Illinois’ job losses elsewhere as businesses lose the one competitive edge that Illinois still has: low energy costs. We are committed to finding a solution that would keep the Clinton plant open while making sure taxpayers receive a good deal as well.”

Illinois’ 11 nuclear units and 6 stations produce 48 percent of the state’s electricity. According to Exelon, the Clinton Power Station produces enough electricity to power 1 million homes. The plant is the largest employer in DeWitt County, providing nearly 700 jobs at an annual payroll of $63 million and generating $13 million in tax payments. For tax year 2014, Clinton Community School District 15 received $8.3 million (53% of its property tax revenue); DeWitt County received $2.2 million (44% of its property tax revenue).

House Bill 6561 creates a state Low Carbon Portfolio Standard that establishes Illinois as a national leader in efforts to reduce carbon emissions with minimal consumer impacts. The market-based solution is modeled after findings from a recent report prepared by four state agencies that analyzed the economic, environmental and reliability impacts of premature nuclear plant closures in Illinois. Rep. Mitchell was chief co-sponsor of HR 1146, which authorized the state report and urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt rules and policies to ensure the continued operation of nuclear power plants in Illinois. 

Currently, the Clinton Power Station is committed to providing power through May of 2017. After that, Exelon and the Clinton plant could be asked to stay online for an additional year in order to ensure power grid reliability throughout the region. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, otherwise known as MISO, is the federal regulatory body tasked with ensuring that the transmission grid can adequately supply power throughout the 15 states in its region. MISO has the ability to ask an energy supplier to stay online for an additional twelve months if it determines that the loss of the plant would create reliability issues. This additional timeframe gives the transmission operator the ability to compensate for the loss of the energy supplier. 

“A determination on the Clinton plant has not yet been made by MISO, but due to its significant output, an additional 12 months is a realistic scenario,” said Rep. Mitchell. “We are doing everything we can to keep Clinton running and are holding out hope that Exelon will decide that this plant is vital to the future of the grid. Barring such a decision, it is still possible that a must-run order will be given to keep the plant in operation for at least another year.”

Mitchell and Rose held meetings in Springfield last week with state and local officials to determine a path forward for Clinton.

“Representative Mitchell and I have met several times to discuss the importance of the Clinton power plant to the region, as well as what steps can be taken to keep the plant running to protect the jobs and tax base for the community. We will continue to work with Exelon and local leaders to find a fair and equitable solution for Central Illinois families,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs).