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.”
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
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.