Union workers rally behind Climate Union Jobs proposal

Union workers rally behind Climate Union Jobs proposal

By GRACE BARBIC and JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
news@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Hundreds of union workers joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers Friday in front of the Illinois Capitol in support of the state’s nuclear power industry

The rally came with just four days remaining in the legislative session and amid a complicated backdrop for the state’s nuclear power industry, which proponents say creates about 28,000 jobs statewide.

Illinois has six nuclear stations which supply more than half of the state’s carbon-free energy. All of them are owned and operated by Exelon Corporation, the parent company of scandal-ridden utility giant Commonwealth Edison.

Last year, ComEd entered a deferred prosecution agreement with federal authorities in which they admitted to attempts to “influence and reward Public Official A,” who was identified as former House Speaker Michael Madigan, for that person’s favorable action on legislation. Madigan has not been charged, but several other former ComEd officials have been indicted.

Madigan’s former chief of staff was indicted Wednesday on charges that he lied under oath and obstructed justice, and he pleaded not guilty Friday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The rally on behalf of nuclear energy came two days after nearly 50 Democratic legislators, identifying as the Illinois Legislative Green Caucus, sent a letter to leadership concerning their demands in a compromise energy overhaul package still pending release.

“We will not support a bill which is simply a handout for utilities and does not prioritize climate and equity – we must be forward thinking and lead with these issues. Our constituents and communities will support nothing less,” the caucus members wrote in the letter.

One of the major questions left to be decided as lawmakers look to draft a compromise energy plan before May 31 adjournment is what level of subsidy Exelon will receive for at least two nuclear plants – one in Byron, one in Dresden – that it has threatened to close without legislative action.

Supporters of the Climate Union Jobs Act, the union-backed energy proposal being considered in energy negotiations with the governor’s working group, touted nuclear energy’s reliability as a carbon-free resource.

“If we lose (the energy negotiation) it’ll be 35 years until we’re able to replace that (nuclear) energy with renewable resources like solar and wind. Losing is not an option. Winning means we save 30,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic development,” said Democratic Sen. Michael Hastings, of Tinley Park, chief sponsor of CUJA.

Hastings is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. He was joined at the rally by Republican Sen. Sue Rezin, of Morris, Chicago Democrat Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs.

Republican Rep. David Welter, of Morris, and Republican Sen. Neil Anderson, of Rock Island, also spoke at the rally.

The 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, approved by the General Assembly and tied by federal prosecutors to ComEd’s admitted bribery scheme, allows Exelon to rack up $2.3 billion in subsidies which were funded by electricity customers to maintain two of its nuclear plants. That equaled more than $230 million per year for 10 years.

The governor’s plan offered about $70 million in subsidies each year for the next five years to the Byron and Dresden plants. Negotiations on a final amount continue.

CUJA advocates, such as Kent Bugg, president of the Fair Assessment Information Resource Committee, or FAIRCOM, said nuclear plant closures would have a devastating immediate impact on communities. Bugg is also the superintendent of Coal City School District 1.

“If the Dresden station closes in November of this year, the Coal City school district loses 60 percent of its property tax revenue overnight,” Bugg said. “If that happens, there’s two choices, drastically increase the tax burden on our residents or slash our educational programming and slash emergency services to a fraction of what they were before.”

Advocates said the Climate Union Jobs Act will also reset standard ratemaking procedures, subjecting proposed rate hikes to greater regulatory scrutiny, similar to a measure proposed in the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“But it will hold people accountable,” Hastings said at the rally without naming any companies. “It’ll hold those people that cast a dark cloud over our state that caused this whole problem. This bill would have been passed a long time ago if it wasn’t for them, and we’re gonna hold them to the highest ethical standards that we can.”

CUJA backers touted a refund mechanism which would “protect consumers from paying inflated costs for nuclear plants receiving subsidies.”

The Climate Jobs Illinois coalition said state leaders still haven’t found a way to “sufficiently” fund the nuclear plants that provide “clean energy,” which is why they suggest a 10-year bridge contract provision.

“If the market prices increase (providing higher payment for power generated), the bill includes a mechanism that would dynamically respond, lowering the credit value offered to the nuclear plants to protect consumers from paying more than necessary to operate them,” according to a news release.

Durkin said at the rally that the “entire Republican Caucus” is standing to ensure the nuclear fleet will continue to operate in Illinois.

“Republicans are 100 percent committed in the House of Representatives to finding a solution to this problem, one that is fair to everyone, not only you (workers) but also consumers, also everyone who relies upon good clean energy in the state of Illinois,” Durkin said.

Should an energy proposal pass, it would likely contain provisions from several bills before the General Assembly.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Peggy Zabicki

Brother, what a day today is

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . May 24 is National Brothers Day. The word “brother” comes from the Latin root for “frater” and the Proto-Germanic word “brothar” which itself comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “bhrater.”  I’m sure everyone already knows that, but…

Mary Stanek

May your Memorial Day be meaningful

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796 . I hope we all will have a meaningful Memorial Day. Let us remember that this day is set to honor military personnel who died in service of their country. Memorial Day also marks…

volleyball

Boys Volleyball | Sandburg seeks 26th regional title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Coming off the worst season in program history in 2023, Sandburg was not going to settle for anything less than better results this year. Past the midway point of this season, however, the Eagles had a record of 11-8. But they closed the regular season strong, winning 11 of…

Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Red-hot Reavis looks to make noise in postseason

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Reavis is determined to send their head coach Don Erickson into retirement on a high note and will head into the postseason red hot and as South Suburban Red champions. The Rams defeated Oak Lawn 3-0 for the second straight day on May 15 to clinch the conference title.…

Richards alum Sebastian Castro is ranked by NFL Draft Live among the top 10 college cornerbacks heading into the 2024 NCAA football season. Photo courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics

Sports Bits | Rice boats at Carlyle Lake, Hawkeye DB and Do It Stevie’s Way

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Noteworthy sports briefs from May 12-19 • Brother Rice’s No. 1 boat of Joe Hall and Joe Judeh took 31st in the state bass fishing tournament, which wrapped up on May 18 at Carlyle Lake. The Crusaders had a two-day haul of 7 pounds, 12 ounces.  The Crusaders’ No.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Nothing NU at SeatGeek

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent There was speculation that because of the renovations being done at Ryan Field, Northwestern would schedule a few football games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview this fall. The Wildcats announced their schedule and no home games are listed at SeatGeek, but the situation is still fluid. They are opting…

SXU softball players celebrate a victory over Bellevue. SXU photo

College Softball | Close losses at nationals end Saint Xavier’s season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Saint Xavier softball team played three nailbiters in the opening round of the NAIA Tournament. But the end result was a 1-2 record to eliminate the Cougars from advancing. SXU (28-14) opened the tournament by nipping Bellevue (Nebraska), 5-4, in Sioux City, Iowa on May 13. Alexus Reese…

Red Stars goalie Alyssa Naeher was with the team but did not play at Gotham on May 19.  IMAGN photo

Red Stars’ Naeher misses loss to Gotham

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The world’s best kept secret is still a mystery. The Chicago Red Stars are not releasing information to the public about the severity of a thigh injury or the status of world-class goalie Alyssa Naeher. What is known is that she did not play in a 2-1 loss to…

CRRNH_PattiTyznik_102622

Summer calendar filling up quickly

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Patti Tyznik Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • ptyznik@gmail.com . Summer is rapidly approaching, and the neighborhood is geared up for lots of great summer fun and activities. The Midway Chamber of Commerce’s farmer’s market will be opening on Wednesdays at the end of May through September…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Shepard’s Kyla Motley cruises to two medals at girls state track finals

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Shepard junior Kyla Motley medaled in two events in the Class 3A girls state track and field meet, the finals for which were held May 18 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Motley finished fourth in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 4 inches. She finished…

Neighbors

Peggy Zabicki

Brother, what a day today is

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . May 24 is National Brothers Day. The word “brother” comes from the Latin root for “frater” and the Proto-Germanic word “brothar” which itself comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “bhrater.”  I’m sure everyone already knows that, but…

Mary Stanek

May your Memorial Day be meaningful

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796 . I hope we all will have a meaningful Memorial Day. Let us remember that this day is set to honor military personnel who died in service of their country. Memorial Day also marks…

volleyball

Boys Volleyball | Sandburg seeks 26th regional title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Coming off the worst season in program history in 2023, Sandburg was not going to settle for anything less than better results this year. Past the midway point of this season, however, the Eagles had a record of 11-8. But they closed the regular season strong, winning 11 of…

Reavis players celebrate after the Rams clinched the South Suburban Red title with a 3-0 win over Oak Lawn. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Red-hot Reavis looks to make noise in postseason

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Reavis is determined to send their head coach Don Erickson into retirement on a high note and will head into the postseason red hot and as South Suburban Red champions. The Rams defeated Oak Lawn 3-0 for the second straight day on May 15 to clinch the conference title.…

Richards alum Sebastian Castro is ranked by NFL Draft Live among the top 10 college cornerbacks heading into the 2024 NCAA football season. Photo courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics

Sports Bits | Rice boats at Carlyle Lake, Hawkeye DB and Do It Stevie’s Way

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Noteworthy sports briefs from May 12-19 • Brother Rice’s No. 1 boat of Joe Hall and Joe Judeh took 31st in the state bass fishing tournament, which wrapped up on May 18 at Carlyle Lake. The Crusaders had a two-day haul of 7 pounds, 12 ounces.  The Crusaders’ No.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Nothing NU at SeatGeek

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent There was speculation that because of the renovations being done at Ryan Field, Northwestern would schedule a few football games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview this fall. The Wildcats announced their schedule and no home games are listed at SeatGeek, but the situation is still fluid. They are opting…

SXU softball players celebrate a victory over Bellevue. SXU photo

College Softball | Close losses at nationals end Saint Xavier’s season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Saint Xavier softball team played three nailbiters in the opening round of the NAIA Tournament. But the end result was a 1-2 record to eliminate the Cougars from advancing. SXU (28-14) opened the tournament by nipping Bellevue (Nebraska), 5-4, in Sioux City, Iowa on May 13. Alexus Reese…

Red Stars goalie Alyssa Naeher was with the team but did not play at Gotham on May 19.  IMAGN photo

Red Stars’ Naeher misses loss to Gotham

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The world’s best kept secret is still a mystery. The Chicago Red Stars are not releasing information to the public about the severity of a thigh injury or the status of world-class goalie Alyssa Naeher. What is known is that she did not play in a 2-1 loss to…

CRRNH_PattiTyznik_102622

Summer calendar filling up quickly

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Patti Tyznik Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • ptyznik@gmail.com . Summer is rapidly approaching, and the neighborhood is geared up for lots of great summer fun and activities. The Midway Chamber of Commerce’s farmer’s market will be opening on Wednesdays at the end of May through September…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Shepard’s Kyla Motley cruises to two medals at girls state track finals

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Shepard junior Kyla Motley medaled in two events in the Class 3A girls state track and field meet, the finals for which were held May 18 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Motley finished fourth in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 4 inches. She finished…