CLINTON AND QUAD CITIES, Ill. — One week after the Future Energy Jobs Bill was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner, the legislation is already delivering new jobs and economic benefits to the region. Exelon plans to fast track multiple capital projects at the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants to enhance long-term equipment reliability, improve safety and ensure regulatory compliance.
“Now that it’s been enacted into law, the Future Energy Jobs Bill is already starting to create jobs and economic growth for Illinois families and businesses,” said Bryan Hanson, Exelon Generation’s Chief Nuclear Officer. “These plants are massive economic engines in their local communities, generating approximately $1.2 billion in economic impact each year. That will only increase once we get these large capital projects underway.”
The Quad Cities project list includes installation of a hardened venting system, plant computer upgrades, and enhancements to the control room simulator, which is used to train reactor operators. The Clinton list includes upgrades to the plant’s main generator, replacement of an auxiliary transformer and upgrades to a pump motor that controls water flow outside the reactor. These projects and others were cancelled or put on hold as Exelon prepared to retire Clinton in June 2017 and Quad Cities the following year. However, under the new law, these projects are back on track.
Exelon will hire more than 400 permanent employees to assist with the capital projects. These hires are in addition to the more than 3,000 electricians, pipe fitters, welders, laborers and contractors hired each year to perform refueling outages at the plants. Many of these workers come from local union halls.
“Opponents of the Future Energy Jobs Bill called it a bailout, but that’s a ridiculous argument,” said Rory Washburn, executive director of the Quad Cities area’s Tri City Building Trades Council. “This legislation is already creating good paying jobs for Illinois families and leveling the playing field so our safe and well run nuclear facilities can compete fairly with other subsidized sources of clean energy.”
The Future Energy Jobs Bill was passed by the Illinois legislature Dec. 1 and was signed by Gov. Rauner on Dec. 7. The measure ensures the continued operations of Clinton and Quad Cities for at least 10 years and protects 4,200 related jobs. The legislation also preserves competitive rates in Illinois, expands energy efficiency programs to drive customer savings, and positions Illinois as a leader in zero-carbon electricity. The bill provides stable, predictable funding for renewable development, providing $180 million per year — growing to $220 million per year — in funding for renewable resources, including new wind power, large-scale solar power, and rooftop and community solar.
The bill received broad support from more than 200 business, labor, environmental, faith-based and other groups, including the AFL-CIO, IBEW, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Retail Merchants Association. It also had support from members of the Clean Jobs Coalition, including the Citizens Utility Board, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund and others.
“The Future Energy Jobs Bill is wonderful news for area businesses,” said Marian Brisard, executive director of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce. “Restarting these capital projects will bring new jobs, millions in local purchasing and heavy foot traffic back to area retailers.”
Along with preserving two of the state’s reliable and efficient nuclear power plants, passage of the bill secures competitive electric rates, protects and creates good-paying jobs, and spurs billions of dollars in investment in clean energy and energy efficiency across the state. It also levels the playing field with solar and wind energy by valuing the zero-carbon energy produced by the nuclear facilities. Ninety percent of the zero-carbon energy produced in Illinois comes from the state’s nuclear facilities.