Cheerleaders, a pep band, and hundreds of happy Exelon workers welcomed Governor Bruce Rauner to northwest Illinois today (wed). At Riverdale High School in Port Byron, he signed the bill that will keep open nuclear power plants in Cordova, near the Quad Cities, and Clinton in central Illinois. Illinois Public Radio's Herb Trix reports.
Rauner congratulated the General Assembly for approving the Future Energy Jobs Bill.
"Nothin' more important than protectin' and growin' good paying jobs. Not minimum wage jobs, good-payin' jobs with a good future. That's what this bill does: protect and grow good-payin' jobs for the people of Illinois."
He says bi-partisan approval of the bill shows what state leaders can do, and should do, on other important legislation. Joining him for the bill signing was Exelon CEO Chris Crane. He calls it a "landmark bill."
"It expands clean energy, it puts energy resources on a level playing field, it maintains the competitive rates that we have in this state. It preserves and creates thousands of jobs for the future, promotes investment in technology that supports the environment and promotes economic growth."
Exelon had threatened to close the two nuclear power plants, saying they were un-profitable. But after two years of lobbying and negotiation, subsidies in the bill will allow them to stay open, and retain 800 jobs at Cordova and 700 at Clinton. About 400 workers from the Quad Cities Generating Station turned out this (wed) morning to watch Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner sign the Future Energy Jobs Bill. They filled the bleachers at Riverdale High School in Port Byron because the bill will keep the nuclear plant at Cordova open, and preserve their jobs. Tom Kubam from Geneseo is a mechanical engineer who's worked at the plant for 20 years, and very happy he won't have to move.
"The nuclear power plant does not emit any carbon and this will put it basically on the same playing field as some of the other green energy."
Tom Wojcik lives in Cordova, and is an engineering manager with 30 years at the plant. He says nuclear energy is cleaner and better for the environment than coal, it's also cleaner than natural gas.
"You know, I think years from now, people will reflect on our burning of fossil fuels and say we just put our pollution out into our environment, but hopefully it won't be too late for that."
Before and during the signing, Cordova workers held up signs including: "Thank You Governor Rauner and Illinois State Legislators," "4200 Jobs are Saved," and "Our Families Thank You."