The Illinois Senate adjourned Tuesday without passing an energy bill after discussions on the matter fizzled out – again.
“We fell a little short today, but we will make it,” said Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, adding that he was confident the bill would not have gone through the chamber as proposed on Tuesday.
Harmon said there were two main lines of contention between organized workers and environmental advocates over the merging of labor protection and the treatment of equity issues – such as how the prevailing wage would apply to new industries created as part of a potential energy proposal – and the expiration date for natural ones Gas-fired power plants currently in proposals that recently circulated at 2045.
Harmon said the two sides are close to reaching an agreement on labor and gender equality issues, and the two sides plan to meet as early as Tuesday evening to continue discussions.
Senator Bill Cunningham, a leader of the energy working group, said the two groups are some of the “most important democratic constituencies,” causing problems for democratic lawmakers.
“The second we fill that void, we’ll have a bill, and I think we’ll have that bill before summer is over,” said Cunningham, D-Chicago.
A spokesman for Exelon said in a statement the company was “disappointed” that a bill was not put to the vote and “without a swift passage of laws, Exelon will have no choice but to withdraw Byron in September and Dresden in November, as previously announced . “
In a statement, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition said it was disappointed that the Senate was going home without a deal.
“Thousands of union workers and solar installers could now lose their jobs as the climate crisis worsens and black and brown communities continue to struggle,” the statement said in part. “We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was adjourned without taking action for a carbon-free energy future, but we are ready to implement the governor’s plan as soon as possible.”
Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said she was optimistic that those involved in the negotiations “could find a way to make it work,” but said that a bill that does not focus on climate and justice would no deal would be obtained.
“I think we can do it; the urgency is too great, ”said Williams, the house sponsor of the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act. “I think everyone agrees that we need to eliminate CO2 emissions … but how and when we can get there is controversial.”
When asked if the House of Representatives could adopt an energy proposal at its meeting on Wednesday, Williams said she has never heard of a possible idea but she and others are looking for an agreement and “we will however” consider. “
Legislators and stakeholders went through a similar process at the end of last month’s session, with rumors emerging of an agreement on an energy proposal that gave way to the adjournment of both houses without passing legislation.
In a revised proposal sent to members of a state energy working group last week, Governor JB Pritzker proposed a $ 694 million subsidy to be paid over five years to three nuclear power plants in Exelon save and shut down all coal-fired power plants in Illinois, including the Prairie state, in 2035, according to a memo summarizing the Chicago Sun-Times changes.
The proposed subsidy fits the parameters of an independent report that Pritzker commissioned on the Byron, Dresden and Braidwood nuclear power plants, the memo says.
The closure of the Prairie State coal-fired power station, owned by public utilities in Winnetka, Naperville, Batavia and dozen other cities across the state, was a point of contention during the energy negotiations.
Some lawmakers urged Pritzker to keep the work open, an idea the governor rejected.
“An exception for the country’s seventh largest polluter remains unacceptable to the governor, as does the nearly 50 lawmakers who have indicated they will not support a law,” a memo said last week. “The governor stands ready to sign this bill, should the General Assembly in Springfield next week decide to pass it.”
A Pritzker spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the state of the negotiations.
It is not yet clear when the Senate will take up the energy legislation again. The House of Representatives is due to return to session on Wednesday, and lawmakers in that chamber are expected to pass a bill that will create an elected school board in Chicago.