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Column: The tangled and uncertain future of Prairie State Energy Campus

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10.06.2021

Sometimes a bad deal is just a bad deal. And it’s not Springfield’s job to try to make it right. In fact, it would be a mistake to even try.

That’s a lesson to keep in mind when contemplating the future of the Prairie State Energy Campus.

Prairie State, and what to do about it, stood in the way of major utility re-regulation late last month as the spring legislative session wound down.

Lawmakers will be headed to Springfield next week to finish their work. This means the pressure to prolong the life of Prairie State, or to bail out the dozens of towns and cities that are owner-customers of a coal-fired power plant that is one of the nation’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, could rise again.

There are all kinds of moving parts in the multiparty, omnibus energy bill expected to be finalized next week. Everyone from Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the unions to utilities and legislators has talked about using the bill to build a clean-fuel future.

Delivering on that promise will be tougher, and more costly, than just talking about it. For example, the omnibus energy plan already includes around $600 million in ratepayer subsidies to keep three Exelon nuclear plants running for the next five years.

The question of what to do about Prairie State remains open. Resolution is close, participants in the negotiations say, but close and done are not........

© Chicago Tribune


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