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Thursday, June 23, 2016 12:16 am

Letters to the Editor 6/23/16

The Clinton Power Station, operated by Exelon Nuclear.



Illinois is at grave risk of losing its status as one of America’s clean energy leaders. If it shuts down two of its high-performing nuclear plants, they will be replaced by out-of-state methane gas from fracking. (“After the atom,” by Patrick Yeagle, June 16.)

There are various reasons for this, but one of the biggest is a last-minute intervention by the state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan, who claims Illinois ratepayers already bailed out the state’s nuclear plants, and that Exelon is simply seeking corporate welfare via the Next Generation Energy Plan (NGEP) legislation, IL SB 1585.

The claim that Illinois ratepayers “subsidized” nuclear plants requires defining all payments for electricity from nuclear as a subsidy. Even if we consider transition charges from 1998 to 2006 to be subsidies for Illinois nuclear plants rather than partial compensation for stranded costs imposed by deregulation – a doubtful interpretation – they cost just 0.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, a small fraction of the total subsidies wind and solar receive.

Nuclear is Illinois’ main source of zero-carbon power and yet gets no state subsidy. Keeping them open would cost a fraction of subsidies already provided to wind, with much larger environmental benefits. That’s because in every recent closure of a nuclear plant, from Vermont Yankee to California’s San Onofre, lost nuclear power has been replaced almost exclusively by fossil-fueled power. That’s not just a federal issue; the loss of Clinton and Quad Cities means a loss of Illinois jobs, loss of Illinois grid stability and loss of clean air in exchange for dirty, polluting emissions in Illinois.

Nuclear plants are indispensable social assets that produce a public good in the form of abundant clean energy. Regardless of Exelon’s bottom line, everyone in Illinois has a stake in keeping them open. Attorney General Madigan should set aside her anti-nuclear dogma and support keeping these, our largest source of clean energy, open. Longer-term, what we need is fair and equal treatment of all forms of clean energy. Madigan should embrace this principal of fairness and equality.

Alan Medsker
Illinois coordinator, Environmental Progress


I have often been un-amused by Chris Britt’s politically irresponsible cartoons. The June 16 cartoon implies that Republicans alone are solely responsible for the impending budget shortfalls now and when a budget is ultimately approved. It should be obvious, even to Chris, that it is the politicians in both parties who should be blamed. Funding shortfalls have been with us for many years and will remain with us until our political leaders gain enough courage to honestly address many and dire funding issues.

Jerry F. Pitts


I am an unapologetic Democrat who is always looking for solutions in the midst of the turmoil that is Illinois state government. We have a wonderful state, full of economic and business opportunities.

But what’s not thriving is our state government. We all know that, and we know there is blame to go around. But I would remind everyone that the Democratic House and Senate leadership have worked well with several Republican governors in the past.

Bruce Rauner wants Democrats to cut living wages that provide the working class a chance to get ahead. We Democrats stand on our values of making sure seniors and the disabled are living with dignity with adequate home care. We care about offering a helping hand to provide a path from poverty to opportunity. We believe there is a fundamental right for workers to organize and collectively bargain for their wages and working conditions.

Governor Rauner: Stop the finger pointing and the blame game and do your job. Help the General Assembly pass a budget that isn’t tied to your Turnaround Agenda. It’s time to make Illinois work again.

Doug House
Rock Island County Democratic Chairman
President of the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association


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