- Mar 9, 2022 10:48 pm GMT
"Last September, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive climate and energy plan into law. It couldn't have been more dramatic: two nuclear plants were only hours away from permanent shutdown when the bill was passed. How did we come so close to losing 30 percent of Illinois's clean electricity?
It actually wasn't the nuclear subsidies. Those had been settled months before. The sticking point that almost sunk the whole deal was the fate of coal, Illinois' second-largest source of power after nuclear. Unions and coal town representatives and senators were rejecting a requirement to close all coal plants by 2030.
In a last-minute compromise, the new legislation differentiated between two sets of coal plants. All investor-owned coal plants must close by 2030 and coal-fired power plants owned by municipalities must either reach zero emissions or shutter by 2045. This means Illinois must close 6.7 gigawatts of coal capacity in the next eight years. That's as much capacity as three Hoover Dams.
Closing these plants certainly would drop emissions. It also means the loss of an estimated 1,200 jobs. The unemployment numbers jump even higher when you take the loss of state coal mines into account. Illinois is America's fourth-largest coal producer. Throw in the sharp jump in out-of-state fossil imports during low wind periods, higher electricity prices and lost tax revenues and the collateral damage gets dizzying."
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