Clinton Community Reacts To Power Plant Staying Open

Clinton Community Reacts To Power Plant Staying Open (WRSP)

People in Clinton said they're relieved to know the nuclear power plant should stay open at least another 13 years thanks to lawmakers passing a multi-billion dollar subsidy for the plant's owner, Exelon.

The payout to Exelon over 13 years for its right now unprofitable -- but clean-energy -- nuclear power plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities will cost millions of ComEd and Exelon customers across the state a couple dollars more on their energy bills a year.

But people in Clinton say a small price to pay to keep an entire economy going.

For two years it's been unclear what would happen to the Clinton and Quad Cities power plants.

The Clinton plant employs more than 600 people.

“You walk around in here somebody either they do or one of their family members do work at the plant,” said Laura Koons, the owner of Shear Paradise in downtown Clinton.

Exelon had said it would close the plants next June because they were unprofitable.

“Caterpillar to Peoria, the power plant to Clinton…if a company like that pulls out, it's very devastating,” said Curt Nettles, the Clinton school district superintendent.

Thursday night state lawmakers passed a 13-year, more than $3 billion subsidy because the plants are environmentally friendly.

“We're very happy today that we can keep operating this plant,” Brett Nauman, a spokesperson for the Clinton nuclear power plant.

Jobs saved in Dewitt, Logan, McLean, and Champaign counties.

“Christmas came early,” said Koons.

But local experts say the trickle-down effect would have been massive. Would it have crippled the local economy?

“I believe so,” said David Newberg, the DeWitt County Board chairman.

From people up and leaving to local businesses potentially closing.

“A lot of our clients are connected to the plant and a lot of them were going to have to relocate so we're glad that they're staying here because obviously if we had no clients, we'd have no business,” said Koons.

The school district would have lost $8 million in property taxes from the power plant, which would have meant major cuts.

“Nine year olds, five year olds, we're trying to set that foundation for them to read and write,” said Nettles.

But now all of that no longer a worry.

The governor does still need to sign the bill.

Opponents to the bill say it's not good practice or fair to bail out a major company in Exelon that already rakes in high profits.

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