After a little over a year since the announcement to close Byron and Dresden, a resolution has been reached by the State of Illinois. Senate Bill 2408 has passed both Legislative Chambers and signed by the Governor. President Terry McGoldrick and Vice President Bill Phillips have worked tirelessly trying to get a comprehensive energy bill across the finish line. It was a roller coaster ride to say the least. On September 9th, the House of Representatives passed this bill with 83 yes votes and 33 no votes. On September 13th, the Senate passed this bill with 37 "yes" votes and 17 "no" votes. On the morning of September 15th, Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (pictured above). President Terry McGoldrick and Vice President Bill Phillips were present for the signing. President Terry McGoldrick spoke at the bill signing. No bill is perfect, but there is a lot for Local 15 to celebrate in this bill. Local 15 leadership was a substantial player in getting this legislation that is being called landmark legislation. This legislation is crucial to the success of our Local moving forward.
This bill saves thousands of direct and indirect nuclear jobs and prevents Byron and Dresden from closure in September and November respectively. It gives approximately $700 million in negotiated subsidies to Byron, Dresden & Braid-wood Nuclear plants in the form of carbon mitigation credit. These stations will receive these credits for 5 years, beginning on June 1st, 2022. LaSalle Station will not receive any subsidy, but Exelon has promised to run it through 2026 as part of the negotiations in this legislation. Our hope is that within the next 5 years, electricity rates rise enough that the Nuclear Generating Stations can survive on their own without any aid in five years. The other possibility is that the Federal Government passes a bill providing a Nuclear production tax credit and this state bill is a bridge to get to a federal rule.
Senate Bill 2408 does away with formula rates for ComEd, as they are known today and returns ComEd to a traditional ratemaking process with the ICC more involved. It tightens up on ethics, accountability & transparency between the State of Illinois and utilities. This bill allows ComEd to invest in electrical infrastructure in the State of Illinois and be reimbursed for the work performed. That is very important to our Local and ComEd. ComEd investing in the electrical infrastructure for stabilization and reliability of the grid leads to continued work for our members.
All generation projects within the state of Illinois going forward will be done with the strongest labor standards set forth in the country. Prevailing wage will be paid to all workers on generation projects within the state that are considered larger than residential. This is something that Labor tried to get in the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016 that kept QC and Clinton Stations from premature closure. At that time, the then Governor Rauner wouldn’t sign the bill with prevailing wage language in it and it was pulled out in the eleventh hour to pass FEJA. This is a really big deal for labor across the state to achieve prevailing wage language in this bill.
Unfortunately, most of the companies that operate fossil generators in the state have already decided to close the plants that they operate or have been attempting to sell them and get out of the business. This legislation goes a long way to try to protect the workers and communities around those facilities. For fossil plants that close, there are incentives to transition into solar generation or battery storage sites. This bill includes language that applies to displaced electric generating station and coal mine workers. These workers will be eligible to attend education on various programs available through the Department of Employment Security. Displaced Fossil workers will have the ability to gain credit from their work experience towards training, certificates, or degrees. Any child of an eligible displaced energy worker who possesses all necessary entrance requirements shall, upon application and proper proof, be awarded a transition scholarship of one calendar year of full-time enrollment to the Illinois State institution of his or her choice. Other available services will include reemployment services, training services, work-based learning services, and financial and retirement planning support.
IBEW Local 15 would like to thank all our members for continuing to go to work everyday with the uncertainty looming and perform their jobs error free. Local 15 also wants to thank all of you that stuck it out and patiently waited for this bill to come to fruition. Without your help and effort in going to the Springfield rally and reaching out to legislators, this wouldn’t have passed. IBEW Local 15 would also like to thank all the other IBEW locals within the state that supported this legislation. This outcome wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Illinois AFL/CIO, led by President Tim Drea and Secretary Treasurer Pat Devaney. Last but not least, thank you to all the Senators and Representatives that supported this bill!