CHICAGO (CN) – A new Illinois emissions credit program will drive up the price of electricity and acts as a bailout of Exelon’s two aging nuclear power plants, electric customers and power companies claim in separate lawsuits challenging the program.
Two separate lawsuits were filed in Chicago federal court on Tuesday against Anthony Star, director of the Illinois Power Agency. One was filed by customers of ComEd, led by the Village of Old Mill Creek, and another was brought by the Electric Power Supply Association and three other energy companies.
Both actions challenge the Future Energy Jobs Act, or FEJA, which amends the Illinois Power Agency Act to create a zero-emissions credit program for nuclear generators.
Under the current system, “the forces of competition have benefited consumers but have impaired the financial viability of the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear generating plants, to the point where Exelon, the owner of both of these plants, decided to close them unless the State bailed them out with billions of dollars in subsidies, to be paid by Illinois electricity consumers,” the energy companies’ complaint states.
The new credit system will allegedly force Illinois electric customers to pay $235 million over 10 years to Exelon over the market rate. Exelon owns ComEd, the largest electric utility in Illinois.
The FEJA amendments are scheduled to take effect on June 1.
After that date, “the Clinton and Quad Cities plants will be paid a total of $34.50 or $41.50 per [megawatt hour] of energy that they sell in [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC]-regulated wholesale markets, while a competing energy generator at the same location would receive just $18 or $25 per MWh,” the companies say.
Electricity customers also objected to the FEJA changes, claiming that they will be forced to pay higher rates for electricity.
“Thousands of ComEd and Ameren Illinois customers who use the utility’s wires only to deliver electricity supply purchased from a competitive supplier will be forced to pay for the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plant subsidies to Exelon Generation,” the customers’ complaint says. “This results in an electricity consumer paying a subsidy for Exelon Generation’s Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants even when a competitive supplier is supplying 100 percent of that consumer’s electricity from wholesale producers other than the nuclear plants.”
Both actions seek a permanent injunction preventing the implementation of the zero-emission credit system.
The power companies are represented by Leonard A. Gail with Massey & Gail in Washington D.C., while the customers are represented by Patrick N. Giordano in Evanston, Ill.
Star declined to comment, saying the Illinois Power Agency is still reviewing the lawsuits.