Gov. Pritzker must get tough with Exelon to keep nuclear plants from closing

Shutting the plants could lead to rate increases. Keeping energy costs down is essential to a robust economic recovery from the pandemic.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker needs to play hardball with Exelon. The energy provider is threatening to close its Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants, claiming they no longer are profitable. Pritzker wants the company to be more transparent with its finances first; Exelon is reluctant to open its books.

To avoid shutting down the plants, Exelon is asking the state for more Zero Emission Credits. The inclusion of ZECs in the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act saved Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants and prevented Illinois from becoming more reliant on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, ZECs have their drawbacks.

According to the Future Energy Jobs Act, utilities in Illinois must purchase ZECs equivalent to 16% of the megawatt-hours they sold in 2014. The utilities then distribute the ZECs to approved power plants and recoup the costs by raising rates. In terms of preserving the state’s clean energy infrastructure, ZECs make sense. But now, more than ever, officials should worry about rate increases.

First, the economic impact of COVID-19 has left many Illinois residents devastated. A year ago, a modest increase in energy costs would have been trivial. Now, keeping energy costs low is essential for a robust economic recovery.

Second, Exelon has proven it cannot be trusted. Recently, Commonwealth Edison, Exelon’s subsidiary, agreed to pay $200 million to resolve federal bribery charges. That $200 million will go to the federal government, not back to ratepayers.

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For all these reasons, Pritzker needs to be aggressive with Exelon. But, at the same time, he needs to make sure the state does not overplay its hand. Nuclear energy is the backbone of Illinois’s clean energy infrastructure. Despite years of generous subsidies, wind and solar have not been able to scale-up to meet the moment. For the sake of clean air, the state cannot afford to let any of Exelon’s plants close.

Illinois’ nuclear energy plants remain some of the state’s greatest assets. Residents should be proud of this fact. At the same time, legislators need to find solutions that don’t come to the detriment of ratepayers.

Marco Rosaire Rossi, Logan Square

Eviction moratorium is unfair to landlords

I am a landlord in Will and Cook counties. I am bound byGov. Pritzker’sstatewide moratorium on evictions, which was supposed to expire Aug. 22 but has since been extended to Sept. 22.

I have had both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 issues with respect to the ability of tenants to pay rent. But while I have worked through the issues related to COVID, I have not been able to work to resolve tenant issues that are not COVID-related.

I have a Will County tenant who has not paid any rent since September 2019.After attempting to resolve this issue, I was left with no choice but to evict.I was working through the eviction process in early March whenthe governorfirst instituted the moratorium.

The issue here is not related to COVID-19, but I cannotevictthe tenant because of the “blanket” moratorium.This situation is incredibly unfair and a hardship to me as a landlord, since my problem existed before the pandemic and the governor lumped together all current and pre-existing eviction situations.

None ofthe many rental assistance plans will work for my circumstances.

Governor, please stop extending the moratorium or let any evictions ordered prior to April 1, 2020, be processed.

Craig Horvath, Chicago

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