This nuclear bailout will cost Illinois billions of dollars
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Illinois lawmakers recently passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814), which would create the biggest rate hike in U.S. history. Proponents of the legislation claim it will “create jobs” and reduce energy rates. This is not true. This anti-free market legislation will kill tens of thousands of Illinois jobs, increase rates in the state by more than $13 billion and prop up politically connected corporations at the expense of Illinois residents.

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The Future Energy Jobs Bill is massive corporate welfare. It was a product of backroom negotiations between lawmakers, far left activists and corporations seeking consumer-funded handouts. The crux of the legislation is a bailout of two nuclear plants in the state owned by Exelon, which would be funded by an increase in the cap on rates consumers can be charged, which will costs Illinois residents a total of $2.4 billion.

Yet the nuclear bailout is only the tip of the iceberg of this grab bag of liberal policies.

In order to get the legislation even considered, the bill’s proponents had to kowtow to left-wing activists in the state and green energy interests with a slew of sweetheart deals included in the legislation. For instance, the legislation secures an expansion of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) at a cost of almost $2 billion. It also continues the state's costly “net-metering” program.

When considering the multibillion dollar nuclear bailout, the RPS and net-metering continuation and billions in energy efficiency handouts, this legislation amounts to nothing more than a wish list of liberal policies and corporate welfare.

In fact, the far-left Environmental Defense Fund praised the bill as “the most significant climate bill and clean energy” legislation in Illinois history. It’s a large achievement by any liberal democratic standards.

Sadly for residents of the Prairie State, this legislative “achievement” means increased energy costs, lost jobs, and reduced economic output and competitiveness. Projections show that, if enacted, the legislation would amount to the largest energy rate hike in U.S. history of $13.3 billion.

The city of Chicago alone would see more than $127 million in higher energy costs, on top of more than $60 million and $59 million in higher costs for Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Transit Authority, respectively. Overall, the seven-county metro area would see more than $10 billion in increased costs.

The state’s economy would likely be the hardest hit. The legislation would cause a projected loss of over 44,000 jobs and a reduction in Illinois’ economic activity of $14.7 billion. State and local governments would also see an estimated tax revenue loss of $429 million.

Given the drastic impact of this legislation on Illinois residents, businesses, and the state’s economy as a whole, one can only ask is this cost truly worth bailing out two insignificant nuclear plants in the state, while also doling out billions of dollars to special interests? The answer is obviously no.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has the ability to save his constituents from this needless and burdensome legislation, simply by refusing to sign the Future Energy Jobs Bill and ensuring Illinois residents and businesses are not subjected to the highest rate hike in history, thousands of jobs lost and billions of dollars in reduced economic growth.

Grover Norquist is President and Founder of Americans for Tax Reform.


The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.