Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an energy bill covering nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable energy in a Wednesday ceremony beside Lake Michigan.
“This is a giant leap forward to making an impact on climate change,” the governor told those gathered at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. “We can’t run or hide from climate change ... There is no time to lose.”
Two days earlier, the Illinois Senate passed SB 2408 and three amendments on a 37-17 vote during a special session and sent the bill to Pritzker for his review.
Illinois Farm Bureau opposed SB 2408 as amended. The legislation still included language that would allow Invenergy to use eminent domain authority to build the Grain Belt Express transmission line.
“Illinois Farm Bureau continues to be very vocal with our state legislators that private property rights must be protected and that the Grain Belt transmission portion of SB 2408 is detrimental to that goal,” said Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation. During Senate debate, several senators raised IFB’s points of opposition.
“We will forever redefine our energy future,” Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said on the Senate floor. He said the goal was to develop comprehensive policy for “reliable, renewable and affordable energy.”
The legislation includes subsidies to keep some of the state’s oldest nuclear power plants in operation. It also provides incentives for renewable energy projects, while requiring coal-fired power plants to eliminate carbon emissions over time, starting by 2030. SB 2408 created new ethics rules for the utility industry.
The legislation dealt with the Prairie State Energy campus, Marissa. The plant would be allowed to operate at full capacity until 2038 when it would have to reduce carbon emissions by 45% or retire a generating unit. In addition, the plant would have to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2045 or close, which would be unlikely given available technology.
During a press conference following the Senate vote, one of the lead negotiators, Sen. Mike Hastings, D-Frankfort, stressed the situation would continue to be addressed. “This is not going to end today,” Hastings told reporters. Harmon agreed: “If we got something wrong, we’ll be back to review it.”