“Alms for Exelon” (faux-)fun(d)raiser

Part 2: ‘Bake Sale against Bailouts’ at Exelon HQ

CHICAGO-–  An organization conducting “Alms for Exelon” street fun(d)raisers for the self-proclaimed impoverished nuclear utility Exelon Corporation conducted the second of a series of street events in Chicago today: “Bake Sale against Bailouts.”

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NEIS supporters Linda Lewison (l) and Dr. Lora Chamberlain outside Exelon HQ during “Bake Sale against Exelon Bailouts!”

The purpose of the event, held outside Exelon’s Chicago   headquarters, is to call attention to Exelon’s demands for a financial bailout of unprofitable nuclear reactors in Illinois.  Radiation suit-clad volunteers ‘encouraged’ members of the public to make $25,000 donations to Exelon to ‘help keep the cost of Exelon’s proposed $1.5 billion ratepayer bailout down’ — in exchange for cupcakes.  The volunteers also passed out  more than 300 informational brochures about the Exelon bailout.

“As we stated in January at the first event, Exelon’s audacious claims require audacious responses,” said Dave Kraft, director of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), a safe-energy advocacy and nuclear power watchdog organization.

“To that end, again with tongue planted firmly in cheek, NEIS continues its ‘Alms for Exelon!’ campaign.  Our goal is to protect Illinois ratepayers from Exelon’s “Submit to our legislation for ‘enhanced financial appreciation’ (could Don Corleone have said this better?) or we’ll shoot this economy!”-type demands, by launching a campaign that casts light on the ‘financially struggling’ utility,” Kraft continued.

Exelon supporters in the Legislature introduced corporate welfare bailout legislation (HB 3293/ SB 1585) earlier in March.  If Exelon’s bill passes, it would:

  • cost ratepayers $300 million per year (or more) for five years, with no measurable added benefit provided;
  • provide no guarantee that Exelon would keep the 5 money-losing nuclear plants open, nor not fire the 2,300 employees working there;
  • attempt to re-define dangerous radioactive waste-producing nuclear power as a “clean, low-carbon” energy source;
  • effectively kill the future of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in Illinois.

In addition Exelon has recently appealed to FERC for an additional $560 million allocation in adjustments to capacity market payments, also to be charged to Illinois ratepayers, making the total Exelon bailout package worth over $2.1 billion.

“There are those who might call our ‘bake sale’ absurd and over the top.  But, compared to Exelon’s demands, compared to reality, we’re obviously amateurs!” Kraft notes.

NEIS literature pointed out that Exelon’s situation must truly be dire, since, in 2014:

  • their revenues were only $27,429,000,000.00 ($27.4 billion)
  • their operating income was only $3,096,000,000 ($3.1 billion)
  • net income was only $2,486,000,000 ($2.5 billion)
  • Exelon CEO Christopher Crane had a total benefits package worth only $17 million
NEIS Board President Gail Snyder leafleting at "Bake Sale against Exelon Bailouts!"
NEIS Board President Gail Snyder leafleting at “Bake Sale against Exelon Bailouts!”

At the Exelon 2014 Fourth Quarter Earnings broadcast, Exelon’s CEO Christopher Crane stated,

“Exelon had a strong year, both operationally and financially. We delivered earnings within our guidance range, and our generation fleet and utilities continued to perform at high levels….We made several investments to grow the company, including the proposed merger with Pepco Holdings, Inc. and the acquisition of Integrys Energy Services, and we continue to strengthen our balance sheet for long-term growth.”

“Seems like Exelon intends to ‘strengthen its balance sheet’ on the backs of Illinois ratepayers, possibly with the Legislature’s blessing,” observes Kraft.  “Where will Governor Rauner, the self-proclaimed ‘business man,” come down on this corporate welfare and enormous wealth transfer?” Kraft wondered.

“We hope by our actions to send a strong message to the Governor, the Legislature and public about how absurd and impertinent Exelon’s undeserved demands are,” states Gail Snyder, President of NEIS.

“This is a moment of energy transformation for Illinois — a ‘pension crisis’ type moment. The Legislature will either take us wisely and competitively into the 21st Century by rejecting Exelon’s outrageous demands, or, it will mire our economy and the environment in the failures of the 20th, while the rest of the World moves forward,” she warned.

 

Press Release Follow Up Report
PRESS RELEASE – FOLLOW UP REPORT

 ‘Bake Sale against Bailouts’ at Exelon HQ Fails to Raise $1.5 Billion Needed – Bailout Immanent

CHICAGO-–  An organization conducting “Alms for Exelon” street fun(d)raisers for the self-proclaimed impoverished nuclear utility Exelon Corporation conducted the second of a series of street events in Chicago today: “Bake Sale against Bailouts.”

The NEIS "Bake Sale against Exelon Bailouts! team. (l. to r.): Dave Kraft, Gail Snyder, Carol Kurz, Linda Lewison, Dennis Nelson. Jan Boudart photographer.
The NEIS “Bake Sale against Exelon Bailouts! team. (l. to r.): Dave Kraft, Gail Snyder, Carol Kurz, Linda Lewison, Dennis Nelson. Jan Boudart photographer.

For the second straight time, no one elected to contribute money to help financially ailing Exelon, making it much more likely that Exelon will be forced to raid the pocketbooks of Illinois ratepayers for upwards of $1.5 billion to bailout five money-losing nuclear reactors in Illinois.

“We just don’t understand it,” lamented a perplexed Dave Kraft, director of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), a safe-energy advocacy and nuclear power watchdog organization.

“We had assumed that at least Exelon employees and people who like old, unprofitable nuclear reactors would want to help keep their company afloat and the reactors operating.  But not a single person elected to contribute today,” Kraft said.

The purpose of the event, held outside Exelon’s Chicago headquarters, was to call attention to Exelon’s demands for a financial bailout of unprofitable nuclear reactors in Illinois.  Radiation suit-clad volunteers ‘encouraged’ members of the public to make $25,000 donations to Exelon to ‘help keep the cost of Exelon’s proposed $1.5 billion ratepayer bailout down’ — in exchange for cupcakes.  The volunteers also passed out over 300 informational brochures about the Exelon bailout.

“Maybe we should have bought chocolate cupcakes instead,” Kraft speculated.

“There are those who might call our ‘bake sale’ absurd and over the top.  But, compared to Exelon’s demands, compared to reality, we’re obviously amateurs!” Kraft notes.

The Exelon corporate welfare bailout bill (SB 1585) passed out of the Senate Energy Committee on Thursday, March 26th, as did its rival legislation, the Illinois Clean Jobs Act (SB 1485) from the Senate Environment Committee.

Conspicuously absent from today’s fun(d)raiser were members of the media.

“Not to worry,” notes NEIS’ Kraft.  We understand how busy and understaffed newsrooms are these days, So, for next month’s event, we have decided to randomly select the offices of 3-4 media outlets, where we will begin the next fun(d)raiser – a radioactive waste auction to benefit Exelon – before arriving at Exelon’s headquarters.”

MultiKulti media center did some taping of people’s reactions to the event.  A URL will be available later from NEIS and on its website.

 

Fukushima nuclear disaster turns 4

The accident continues

CHICAGO—The nuclear disaster at Fukushima enters its fourth year today, and the more things change, the more they remain the same, a local nuclear watchdog organization observes.

“We’re entering year four of a global disaster which will NEIS demonstrators outside the Japanese Consulate in Chicago on 4th anniversary of Fukushima disaster continue to go on for at least three more decades, and cost Japan hundreds of  billions of dollars,” notes Gail Snyder, Board President of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), a Chicago-based safe-energy/nuclear watchdog organization.

While costly, incremental progress is being made at Fukushima, the clean-up project remains riddled with many of the flaws and problems noted early on, and feared by both the Japanese public and international observers alike.  These include:

  • The ongoing dumping of radioactively contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, and consequent contamination of fish and plant life;
  • Control of the clean-up operations by Japanese mafia (yakuza) organizations, leading to poor training and contamination of workers, who are also underpaid and have few benefits or health options;
  • The capitulation of government to the wishes of the Japanese nuclear industry, the legendary “Nuclear Village” of industry insiders.
  • The complex, multi-layered system of awarding sub-contractor contracts to do the clean-up, which is rife with corruption;
  • The weakening of radiation exposure standards for both workers and the general public; and ignoring of other contaminated prefectures besides Fukushima;
  • The deliberate spreading of radioactive waste disposal and contamination across all of Japan as a matter of formal government policy;
  • Continued cover-ups on the part of TEPCO with no legal consequences for their actions. Recently Japan Times revealed that TEPCO was knowingly discharging radioactive water containing strontium and cesium into the Pacific Ocean for the past 10 months, but did not notify anyone until caught.

“It is not acceptable that the government of Japan permits continued contamination of the

Pacific Ocean without consequence,” Snyder asserts.  “We are here today to inform Prime Minister Abe that these and other unacceptable actions will no longer be tolerated by the World Community.   If Japan does not cease its contamination of the planet in the coming year, does not engage in responsible clean-up activities, does not engage in responsible radiation monitoring, then We, the World Community will be forced to bring formal charges against them in an appropriate world court venue,” Snyder warns.

“We will be back here next year, and every year after that.  We will see progress from the Japanese government on the cleanup, of they will see consequence,” Snyder concludes.

Illinois has four reactors of the same type but older than the reactors that melted down and exploded at Fukushima in 2011.  Two of these — Quad Cities 1 & 2 — are on the list for either corporate welfare bailout or closure via the recently introduced Exelon legislation.

A demonstration will take place outside the Japanese Consul’s office in Chicago from 11 to 1 today.