WIFR: Rep. Kinzinger, Sen. Stewart respond to Byron, Dresden plant closures
“Today’s announcement to close both the Byron and Dresden power plants is a gut-punch to the people of Illinois, especially to the counties that surround these generating stations. Hundreds of people will now be out of jobs and our efforts to produce clean, affordable, safe nuclear energy will be crushed.
As a nation, we cannot reach our climate goals without nuclear energy. In Congress, I’ve long fought for nuclear and am doing everything I can at the federal level to save our nuclear fleet. But we need state support.
What did we get instead? Corruption and bribery by Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois’ largest electric utility company, ComEd. They put millions of dollars into their own pockets by hiking up prices on Illinois taxpayers, and throwing our nuclear power plants into the crosshairs of their backroom deals.
The Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants are the latest casualties of the self-serving policies coming from Democrat-led Springfield, and it’s long-past time for a change. To start, I’m calling on Senator Durbin to work with me in Congress to take the Department of Justice fines on ComEd and re-appropriate them to the communities most affected by these plant closures.
I’ll continue to fight for nuclear energy, for the vital operations of our remaining power plants, and for accountability in our government. Because integrity matters, and Illinois deserves much, much better than this,” Kinzinger said.
State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport, 45th District) also issued a statement about the announcement by Exelon.
“State leaders must never underestimate the value of the Byron Nuclear Generating Station to the residents of Byron and surrounding communities in Ogle and Winnebago counties. A fixture in the area since September 1985, this facility has been the source of economic pride and well-being for northern Illinois residents, as well as an important source of power for millions in homes and businesses across our region.
We must make state leaders understand how integral the Byron Nuclear Generating Station is to our region’s economy, providing about 800 jobs at the facility. These are professional jobs with pretty specific sets of skills and if the Byron facility closes, many of the employees will need to move to other parts of the state or out of Illinois entirely. And we must consider the countless other businesses these employees support in their communities. There were also about 1,300 regional jobs in 2019 associated with refueling processes.
The Byron facility also provides a strong, steady source of tax revenues – such as $38 million in property taxes annually – to help local governments pay for the services and programs they provide their residents.
Closing the Byron Nuclear Generating Station should never be subjected to partisan policy considerations, and we hope local and state leaders from all political parties and from throughout the state will take time to come tour this facility. We also need to hear from all stakeholders about the impact Exelon’s closure would have on our part of the state,” Stewart said.
The Illinois Chamber also spoke on the plant closures.
“The Illinois Chamber was disappointed to learn that Exelon has once again threatened to close two of their nuclear facilities next year -- plants that it has acknowledged continue to be profitable -- unless they receive another bailout funded by ratepayers,” said Illinois Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch. “Exelon is demanding a bailout without completely opening its books to a truly independent third party. PJM’s Independent Market Monitor should conduct a thorough audit.”
“The Chamber does understand, however, that the closure of power plants can have a significant economic impact on employees and the communities where those facilities are located, and that’s why we support Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham’s Senate Bill 3837, which includes a number of tools to mitigate these impacts. For instance, SB 3837 would create the Community Impact Mitigation Fund to mitigate the impacts of lost property taxes and jobs, and decreased economic development as a result of closures,” Maisch said. “The Chamber will continue to work with policy makers and energy stakeholders to craft a balanced energy policy that ensures reliable and affordable electricity.”
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) also released a statement on the plants closing.
“The closure of Byron and Dresden Generating Stations will have significant impacts on the local economy and Illinois workers. In the days and months ahead, I am committed to fighting for these jobs and helping to create additional good paying jobs in these communities, and creating a clean energy economy with policies like my America’s Clean Future Fund Act.
Unfortunately, for the past three and a half years, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have pursued policies that hurt nuclear energy and the thousands of good paying jobs that they support. The Trump Administration passed a rule to nullify Illinois’ clean energy program that supported nuclear power plants like Byron and Dresden. And Congressional Republicans supported the Trump Administration’s efforts to overturn the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which helped support nuclear energy.
I encourage Congressman Kinzinger and the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to work with me to undo the disastrous policies put into place by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans, which have hurt these plants and employees, and work to pass smart legislation that supports clean energy jobs.”