SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --A plan to keep two nuclear power plants operating and save thousands of Illinois jobs is on its way to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The Senate voted 32-18 to approve the plan Thursday night just an hour after it got House approval 63-38.
The measure provides $235 million a year to Exelon Corp. for 13 years. Exelon counts it as a subsidy for nuclear power producing no gases harmful to the atmosphere.
It allows unprofitable nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities to stay open.
Proponents say it will cost electricity ratepayers less than 25 cents a month and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in energy-efficiency programs.
Critics say it's a corporate bailout that will hike energy prices and that Illinois has enough power generation without the nuclear plants.
Gov. Rauner released a statement Thursday saying: "For months our administration has been very clear that any energy legislation should follow the guiding principles of protecting jobs, ratepayers and taxpayers. After dozens of hours of good faith negotiations, we have reached an agreement that aligns with those principles. This legislation will save thousands of jobs. It protects ratepayers, through guaranteed caps, from large rate increases in years to come. It also ensures taxpayers are not on the hook to keep the power plants open and online. We thank the rank-and-file legislators and stakeholders for their perseverance and commitment to seeing this through. This process shows that when all parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, we can find agreement and move our state forward."
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association released a statement saying: "The Future Energy Jobs Bill creates jobs, encourages economic prosperity, preserves reliability, and enables even greater savings on Illinois' super competitive electricity rates. Illinois retailers have long been an advocate for competitive energy policy and today was an important step towards our state's energy future. IRMA applauds Governor Rauner, House Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Radogno, House Republican Leader Durkin and members of both legislative chambers in demonstrating executive and legislative leadership."
WLS-TV contributed to this report.