Say “NO!” to $60+ Billion Nuke Subsidies in BBB Act

Congress is set to begin voting on the Build Back Better Act as early as this week.  Huge subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels are imbedded in a so-called climate bill.  It’s up to you – and us – to stop them! Read more

PRESS RELEASE

Build Back Better Act: Climate Salvation? Or Trojan Horse?

Devils in the details reveal massive spending on “false climate solutions,” safe-energy advocates reveal

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Close inspection of the mark-up language being proposed in parts of the “Build Back Better” Reconciliation package has uncovered large hidden subsidies and loopholes that benefit Big Dirty Energy, including approximately $50 billion in subsidies for existing nuclear power plants. Read more

Say  “NO!” to Exelon Nuclear Bailouts!

  • $694 million from Illinois Legislature expected to pass on Monday, Sept. 13
  • As much as $25 BILLION could go to Exelon from Congress

On Monday Sept. 13th the Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pritzker are expected to give yet another state bailout to fund corporate welfare queen Exelon’s money-losing Byron and Dresden nuclear reactors.

Some time that week Congress is expected to vote on the Budget Reconciliation and Infrastructure legislation in Washington.  Nuclear lobbyists have been very active arranging for your pockets to be picked there too, once again.

We’re told we can’t afford a $15 minimum wage; can’t provide universal health care during a pandemic; and don’t have enough money to build new renewable energy sources to replace nuclear at a time of “Climate Code Red.”  Yet, they can find money to bailout profitable nuclear corporations like Exelon.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Call Sens. Durbin [202-224-2152] and Duckworth [202-224-2854]; and tell them “No more nuclear bailouts! Fund renewables instead.”
  • Call your representative to Congress with the same message. Call the Capitol Switchboard number [202-224-3121] if you don’t know his/her number.  If you don’t know who that is, click this link and follow instructions.
  • Find numbers for your state and fed officials at:

https://www.elections.il.gov/Default.aspx

click “Find my elected officials”

Gov. Pritzker: 312-814-2121;  217-782-6830

For more information: NEIS, (773)342-7650;  neis@neis.org

Thank you!

An otherwise excellent Chicago Tribune summary of the proposed Comprehensive Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CCEJA) was marred by the oversimplified one-line explanation for critics’ opposition to continued Exelon nuclear plant bailouts.  While legitimate to question and oppose bailing out a profitable corporate welfare queen like Exelon, the real reasons are more numerous and complex.

The $694 million Exelon bailout proposed in CCEJA is nearly twice the amount found financially defensible by Governor Pritzker’s $250,000 independent audit commissioned earlier this year.  What’s the justification for increasing ratepayer abuse? Read more

Sept. 3, 2021

This originally was going to be a “summer summary” of NEIS’ work.  However, the importance and prominence of the proposed nuclear bailouts at both the Illinois-State and federal levels argued for a delay of that idea, and an update report to people committed to safe-energy and a less-nuclear world and the negative effects of the continued “nuclear hostage crisis” on our carbon-free/nuclear-free future.

ILLINOIS ENERGY BILL MOVES FORWARD, STILL IN LIMBO:

The omnibus energy bill (SB18, amended; now SB1751, House Amendment 1, no link available yet) continues to lurch forward with the surprise Senate passage on Tuesday Sept. 2 in the wee hours Read more

WASHINGTON, D.C — Over 240 organizations, including Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food & Water Watch, The League of Women Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and hundreds more sent a letter to Congressional leaders telling them to reject all proposals in infrastructure bills that subsidize nuclear energy, and to instead invest in a just and equitable transition to safe, clean renewable energy.

The letter opposes proposals in both the energy legislation for the larger reconciliation package (S.2291/H.R.4024) and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which together would grant up to $50 billion to prop up aging, increasingly uneconomical nuclear reactors for the next decade.

The letter highlights climate, economic, and environmental justice concerns with proposed nuclear subsidies, in addition to evidence that nuclear power is too dirty, dangerous, expensive, and slow to be a viable solution to the climate crisis.

All of the proposed subsidies (up to $50 billion) are predicted to go to reactors owned by only eight corporations and located in only 19 counties across eight states. Over 50 organizations in each of these states – Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas – signed the letter. Read more

The recent Illinois lobbying corruption scandal involving Exelon Corporation, its subsidiary Commonwealth Edison and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan demonstrate the extent to which nuclear “power” is about more than electrons. While the FBI arrests of the Ohio House Speaker and 5 others in a $60 million bribery/corruption scheme, the $10 billion Exelon nuclear bailout in New York, the questionable circumstances surrounding Exelon’s 2016 PepCo merger, and the South Carolina $9 billion SCANA fraud case suggest that this may be a national pandemic (summarized nicely in this New York Times piece , “When Utility Money Talks,” 8/2/20), the situation in Illinois with Exelon and its subsidiary ComEd has been long standing and particularly egregious.

For decades Exelon’s stranglehold on Illinois energy legislation in cooperation with the currently investigated Speaker Michael Madigan has not only given Illinois more reactors (14) and high-level radioactive waste (>11,000 tons) than any other state. It has severely stifled expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and hampered the Illinois’ energy transformation needed to deal with the worsening climate crisis.

For decades the Illinois environmental community has seen renewables expansion thwarted by the recognition that no significant renewable energy buildout could occur without concessions to either Exelon or ComEd, and Speaker Madigan’s approval. The most recent instance was the 2016 $2.35 billion bailout of three uncompetitive Exelon reactors.

This “nuclear blackmail” politics has forced enviros wanting to pass new legislation to expand renewables into a reluctant and grudging alliance with Exelon – at Exelon’s price of capacity market “reform” that would reward both renewables and ten of Exelon’s operating reactors. If passed in its presently proposed form, this provides yet another nuclear bailout under the disguise of “market-based reform.”

To ratchet up the pressure to enact this nuclear prop-up even more, Exelon CEO Chris Crane in Exelon’s 2Q quarterly earnings call with analysts once again dangles the prospect of closing up to 6 reactors if this market-based-bailout is not granted in 2021.

Under the current ongoing FBI corruption investigation, this reluctant alliance of necessity has turned disastrous, given the political toxicity of any current association with either ComEd or Exelon.

It is just and reasonable that ComEd (and the so-called “bad apples” who “retired” already) should be penalized and prosecuted for their misdeeds, even if they are reportedly “cooperative.” However, a $200 million “settlement” penalty for a $34 billion corporation that for decades has gouged billions from Illinois ratepayers through admittedly corrupt illegal practices is a slap on the wrist.

Further, the $200 million penalty agreement provides no restitution for the decades-long societal damage done via nuclear pay-for-play. Illinois rate payers deserve restitution from these and any predatory, corrupt companies that would engage in such activities. This may require explicit legislation. How can one logically or ethically assert that ill-gotten gains (e.g., the 2016 $2.35 billion nuclear bailout) are still “good for the public” when bribery and corruption were used to get them?

Last Fall, a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker stated, “The governor’s priority is to work with principled stakeholders on clean energy legislation that is above reproach.” Gov. Pritzker – your moment of truth has arrived.

We urge the Governor and the legislature to begin the restitution process by repealing the $2.3 billion 2016 nuclear bailout. Further, and as others like Crain’s Joe Cahill have suggested, Christopher Crane must step down completely from all functions at Exelon.

The legislature should also enact explicit utility ethics legislation with transparent oversight of utility contracting and philanthropic giving activities to insure that this kind of corrupt behavior is not repeated. And if Chris Crane’s threat of imminent reactor closure is true, then community just-transitions legislation to protect those negatively impacted communities should be a priority of the legislature. As NEIS has maintained and advocated since 2014 – it’s the reactor communities (and equally adversely affected coal mining and power plant communities) that need state support and bailouts when plants are threatened with closure, not profitable private corporations like Exelon.

Finally, we support the FBI’s continued investigation into the activities of Speaker Madigan, associates, and other legislators if necessary to ferret out the remaining political corruption that has abetted this corporate larceny. This is the only way to send a significant and lasting message that nuclear pay-for-play in Illinois is over.

[NOTE: If you are interested in using the above cartoon, please contact NEIS for conditions of use. Thanks in advance.]

 

When he was 11, my stepson taught me one of the most valuable Life-lessons I’ve learned when he said, “You know Dave, man isn’t a “rational” animal.  He’s a “rationalizing” one!”

Truer words have never been spoken when examining the nonsense rationalizations being paraded around by execs of unprofitable electric utilities and their governmental handmaidens for bailing out unprofitable nuclear and coal plants that the market-based system utility lobbyists introduced years ago would otherwise see closed.

A “rationalization” is usually a specious excuse or explanation offered to cover up a serious flaw or failure.  In some cases – like state-mandated nuclear and coal plant bailouts — a legalized fig-leaf, if you will.

Virtually every bailout rationalization offered to date by the Exelons and Dynegys, Trumps and Perrys of the world fall flat on their face when analyzed in detail by the majority of professional agencies and staffs employed to make the crucial, day-to-day decisions that keep the electric grid functioning.  National security, grid resilience, onsite fuel reserves – all such claims have been handily debunked by the experts, historical evidence, or both.

Now Exelon informs the world that its Dresden and Byron reactors are now in “financial distress.”  How sad.  So are Illinois ratepayers after the last $2.4 billion bailout Governor Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan awarded them in 2016.

Exelon claims “… the company will not at any point seek subsidies from Illinois ratepayers to keep Dresden and Byron open…”.  But that’s what Exelon management said in 2014 about the then five reactors they said were in “financial distress,” too.  This time, they instead are relying on the twisted illogic trying to pass as public policy they hope will come from a Trump Administration Soviet-style protectionist mandate; or twisty balloon-dog machinations they hope regional system operator PJM will invent to facilitate the next wealth transfer from ratepayers to shareholders.

In 2014 our organization brought two propositions to the bailout negotiations that went ignored, and are being ignored today:  1.) nowhere in the State Constitution is the Legislature obligated to guarantee the profitability of a private corporation; and 2.) it is the communities whose jobs and economies are threatened by reactor and coal plant closures that need the bailing out, not profitable private corporations.

We recommended institution of a “just transitions” negotiation among affected parties as an alternative to repeated nuclear hostage crises, to create an economic transition plan for closures before they become imminent crises.  We provided testimony to this effect to both the Senate and House energy committees; and spoke with over 40 state elected and appointed officials prior to the bailout.  We again proposed this concept in a State Journal Register op-ed published in December 2016 after Governor Rauner signed Exelon’s bailout into law.

It is long past time to institute this pro-active approach to protecting affected communities and ratepayers.  Economic blackmail is a poor way to conduct energy policy; and legalized extortion no valid substitute for real market-based solutions.

The utility bailout mania triggered by Exelon has swept the nation like some form of energy-HIV.  Empty, fig-leaf rationalizations created to provide some pretense of legality makes a mockery of the agencies and regulations already in place which seem to be doing the grid reliability job quite well, thank you.

Harsh economic realities will soon begin to force legislatures and Congress to embrace one obvious conclusion:  you cannot create an energy future by bailing out the past.

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