Illinois politicians to focus on clean energy bill Thursday

Supporters say it's a big boost for clean energy in Illinois, but critics say it includes what they call "the biggest utility rate increase" in state history.

While Thursday's Springfield agenda includes both energy and ethics, there's far more focus on the former. 

With billions of dollars and thousands of jobs at stake, negotiations continued late Wednesday night in the Illinois House between labor unions seeking to protect existing jobs and proponents of clean energy.

"After years of work with all the stakeholders, we are on the verge of an agreement to get to a 100 percent clean energy future!" said Jack Darin from the Sierra Club of Illinois.

The Illinois Manufacturers Association said the proposal would cost consumers an extra $700 million, and, by forcing the eventual closure of all coal and gas-fired power plants, would make the state's power grid less reliable.


Defenders of the relatively new prairie state coal plant, 330 miles south of Chicago, said closing it would force "residents across Illinois to pay more money for less reliable power, all while sacrificing hundreds of good-paying jobs in the process." 

Environmentalists claim workers will benefit by building renewable energy sources.

"We're talking about a generation of high-paying jobs building clean energy in Illinois that will power our state for the future," said Darin.

The proposal includes a controversial, multi-million dollar subsidy for ComEd's parent company, Exelon. 

Without that cash, the electric utility giant is threatening to shut down its nuclear power plant in Byron beginning Monday.