To the Editor:
Over the last decade, Exelon has reaped more than $21 billion in profits, running a fleet of nuclear power plants that benefited from high electricity prices.
But wholesale power prices have fallen, thanks to a surge in natural gas supply and increased energy efficiency – and Commonwealth Edison’s parent company hasn’t been getting the kind of results to which it has grown accustomed.
So, the power giant is reportedly threatening to close as many as three of its six Illinois nuclear plants, unless state legislators force consumers to pay more to boost Exelon’s profits and minimize its risk.
Exelon’s actions suggest it wants privatized profit and socialized risk – the equivalent of nuclear waste for consumers. Lawmakers should reject this one-sided proposal. Not only would the deal threaten our pocketbooks, it’s also hypocritical. After all, Exelon advocated for the same energy markets it now bemoans and has previously opposed state support for competitor plants.
If state lawmakers still decide to entertain this proposal, they should follow three principles to protect consumers:
First, risks and rewards should be shared equitably. If Exelon gets protection from market forces when prices are low, consumers must get protection when prices rise.
Second, the state’s power portfolio should prioritize cost-effective, clean energy resources.
Third, support must be based on a thorough and transparent analysis of Exelon’s financial situation. We can’t simply take the company’s word that plants are losing money, especially when its overall fleet remains profitable.
Without these safeguards, a full-fledged bailout of Exelon’s plants would be radioactive for our pocketbooks.
Executive director, Citizens Utility Board