Illinois lawmakers could vote on sweeping energy bill as soon as next week

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Even after Harmon made publicly clear that he wasn’t holding up the bill over the lack of a Prairie State compromise, there have been questions about whether the issue would sap enough support from the compromise to keep the Senate from securing the 35 votes needed for passage. Under state rules, bills taken up after the Legislature’s May 31 deadline require a three-fifths vote in each chamber to pass.

“I think enough of the members that were concerned about (Prairie State) have come to terms with the 2035 date,” Harmon said in an interview.

Harmon scotched plans to vote on the bill at the end of the frantic session in response to fellow Democratic senators who he said thought Prairie State wouldn’t be subject to the governor’s 2035 deadline. A steady producer with a capacity of 1,600 megawatts, Prairie State is one of the 10 largest coal plants in the country in terms of megawatt-hours generated. It is also one of the most substantial emitters of various pollutants in the country. Environmentalists harshly criticized a carve-out for the facility, saying a climate bill with such a provision wouldn’t be worthy of the name.

Pritzker has been publicly adamant that he would oppose allowing any coal-fired plant to operate after 2035. The legislation, which, among many other provisions, includes ratepayer subsidies to keep open financial teetering nuclear plants and more ratepayer funds to build new solar and wind projects, is aimed at weaning the state’s power generation industry off fossil fuels by the middle of the century. The measure also includes a 2045 deadline for closure of all natural gas-fired plants.

Observers believe that enough support in the House is virtually assured, so the Senate remains the primary question mark. Harmon’s remarks today provide more assurance that the biggest state energy package since the deregulation of the generation industry in the late 1990s will pass.

That would give Pritzker a signature legislative achievement on which to run for reelection—one which can be portrayed as responding to Illinoisans’ concerns about climate change and the environment.

So far, while the general contours of the bill are known, the legislation has yet to be filed. Many observers and outside parties are eager to see the details and better understand the implications. Harmon said he expects the bill to be filed this week.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

June 7, 2021 at 04:53PM

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