Why the Senate left Springfield without voting on that big energy bill

https://ift.tt/3iMzkCX

That was what Senate President Don Harmon was referring to yesterday after the Senate’s adjournment when he said somewhat cryptically, “There are significant investments and significant jobs associated with those (gas) plants. People could be out of a job Monday if we passed that bill today.”

The issue for CPV is provisions environmentalists have championed that not only would set a firm “decarbonization” date for the burning of natural gas to generate electricity, but also would require steady declines in emissions over the years leading up to that.

For the company, whose CPV Three Rivers plant is the largest in its U.S. portfolio, the uncertainty that language created meant it couldn’t plow ahead on a project with a 30-year life expectancy when it might be required to shut down in a few years.

“A viable scenario was that each facility would have to reduce by 20 percent every five years,” said Tom Rumsey, CPV senior vice president of external and regulatory affairs, in an interview.

“When you’re building a brand-new combined cycle plant, you have very little carbon emissions to start with,” he said. “You can’t take from what you don’t have.”

The measure would require periodic reductions in emissions but leaves it to state officials to determine how to achieve those. CPV felt it couldn’t take the risk of an across-the-board percentage reduction being imposed on the industry at large even though older plants pollute more than newer ones like Three Rivers.

Harmon yesterday and Gov. J.B. Pritzker today expressed optimism that the issue could be worked out. Harmon directed environmental advocates who’ve been negotiating with organized labor and industry to find common ground on the issue of interim carbon reductions on the way to an end date of 2035 for coal-fired plants and 2045 for those fueled by gas.

CPV doesn’t object to the 2045 date, even though its plant still will be viable at that stage. “We would go forward,” Rumsey said, if a shutdown is required by 2045, so long as the plant doesn’t have to reduce emissions in the meantime.

He emphasized that CPV is fully supportive of decarbonization and is a developer of renewable projects, as well as modern gas plants. “We’re very much in favor of the state going lower-carbon,” he said.

And Three Rivers is no ordinary gas plant. When it comes online in 2023, it will have the capacity to generate 1,250 megawatts, enough juice to light 1.3 million homes. To put that in context, that’s nearly the generating capacity of Exelon’s Dresden nuclear plant, which coincidentally is just up the road in Morris. Ironically, Dresden, which Exelon has slated for premature closure this coming fall due to poor economics, would get ratepayer-funded subsidies in the bill to stay open for at least the next five years.

There already are about 225 union workers on-site at Three Rivers, and that will nearly triple during peak construction, Rumsey said. Once the plant is operational, it will need only about 25 workers—part of the reason gas plants are so much more cost-efficient than nuclear facilities, which need hundreds of employees at each nuke plant.

There isn’t a deal between CPV and the greens yet, Rumsey said.

The issue doesn’t appear insurmountable, though, and observers predict senators will return to Springfield within the next few weeks to vote on a final package.

Said Harmon yesterday, "The Clean Energy Jobs Act has always been about jobs."

via Crain’s Chicago Business

June 16, 2021 at 02:09PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s