Byron

This 2011 file photo shows steam escaping from Exelon Corp.’s nuclear plant in Byron, Ill.

A bipartisan group of 52 Illinois lawmakers is urging Gov. JB Pritzker not to prematurely close not-for-profit coal-fired power plants, warning such a move would raise utility bills and eliminate jobs.

They are asking that the plants operated by City, Water Light and Power in Springfield and the Prairie State Energy Campus in Marissa be excluded from the 2035 closure date proposed in energy legislation being considered this week.

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said more time is needed to allow for a more responsible transition and would give communities time to put in place new power sources.

“I think talking about shutting something down in 2035 should be looked at more thoroughly than an energy bill at this point in time that I have yet to see any details about,” Brady said.

Pritzker has said an energy deal at the Statehouse to focus on renewable energy would keep nuclear plants open, some of which have threatened to close later this year because of revenue losses.

The letter said the coal-fired plants in Springfield and Washington County combined to employ more than 1,100 workers and an additional 1,000 skilled, union tradesmen and tradeswomen “in good, high-paying jobs.”

The letter follows a similar request to the governor to exempt plants by organized labor and mayors around the state led by the Illinois Municipal League, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

“In 1997, Illinois deregulated the energy market resulting in billions of dollars in savings for homeowners and businesses. Our low-cost energy prices and reliable grid have been cited by governors time and again as reasons why businesses should stay in or relocate to Illinois. Twenty-four years later, instead of building on this strength, the proposed energy legislation being circulated will be the largest rate hike on consumers and businesses in history,” the letter stated.

“I believe from what I have been able to research would have a huge rate impact on many of my constituents, not to mention, folks and their jobs that are in some of these plants,” Brady said.

Pritzker’s spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh said the governor took suggestions from the business community.

“The governor also heard loud and clear that the business community did not want a new ratemaking structure to compromise reliability. That’s why, under the new system, reliability will be a performance metric. That means that ComEd and Ameren will be rewarded for improved reliability and penalized for decreased reliability.”