By Michael Mariotte

Exelon's Fukushima-clone Dresden nuclear complex (Unit 1, on the right, has been closed since 1978 as it couldn't meet safety regulations).

Exelon’s Fukushima-clone Dresden nuclear complex (Unit 1, on the right, has been closed since 1978 as it couldn’t meet safety regulations).

It should surprise absolutely no one that a utility that relies on dirty energy to make its money also plays dirty when its money is threatened or when a state legislature is considering whether to bail out the company with its constituents’ money.

So don’t be surprised that we report that yes indeed, gasp, Exelon is playing dirty in Illinois. And just about everywhere else too.

Misleading robocalls. A subsidiary trying to sabotage energy efficiency programs. Even hiding–or at least not drawing attention to–a huge tax case loss. That’s Exelon in action.

Take those robocalls. Dave Kraft of Illinois’ Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) reports that some NEIS members have received unidentified robocalls on their home phones, urging them to call their state legislators to “support clean renewable energy.”

The problem is, the bill the robocalls support is Exelon’s bill to establish a “low carbon portfolio standard.” As we reported last month, that’s the bill that was written to bail out Exelon’s uneconomic reactors in Illinois and prevent the expansion of “clean renewable energy” in the state.

NEIS, NIRS and those honestly in favor of clean energy are supporting a different bill also before the legislature, SB 1485/HB 2607, that actually would encourage clean energy in the state–and wouldn’t bail out Exelon’s failing nukes in the process.

Earlier this week, Crain’s Chicago Business, which continues to be the best source of reporting on Exelon and its machinations, reported that Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison–the state’s largest distribution utility–“wants to make it illegal in Illinois to count the benefits of lowering energy prices when deciding which energy efficiency projects should qualify for ratepayer-funded financial assistance.”

In other words, while even CommEd can’t discount the fact that energy efficiency is cleaner than electricity generation, it wants the other main benefit of improving efficiency–lower electricity prices for ratepayers–to be ignored entirely.

Why? Because holding back gains in energy efficiency would help out Exelon’s six uneconomic reactors. Improving efficiency means less generation is needed. By attempting to sabotage the state’s efficiency programs, CommEd is trying to ensure that electricity demand goes up, making it at least somewhat more likely those reactors would be useful. In fact, those reactors still wouldn’t be needed; but the numbers conceivably could be manipulated enough to make it appear so.

Finally, Forbes reported on Monday that Exelon lost a major tax case, worth $661 million–or about 2% of the company’s value. The issue is complicated (it is tax law, after all) and has to do with decommissioning funds and Exelon’s purchase a decade or so ago of Amergen, which owned the Three Mile Island-1, Oyster Creek and Clinton reactors.

It doesn’t appear that Exelon actually misled anyone about the case; it’s all there in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings. But it’s there in footnotes, and Exelon didn’t exactly publicize its loss in the case either. So, instead of going down, Exelon’s stock went up. Maybe because no one reads footnotes. Perhaps they should.

It is vital that we reach everyone possible in Illinois to counter Exelon’s proposed nuclear bailout. That’s a bailout that would cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars and provide them with nothing but the electricity they would receive even without the bailout. But instead of coming from cleaner energy sources, and helping to expand Illinois’ clean energy programs, the bailout would ensure that Illinois’ power would continue to come from dirty, aging and expensive nuclear reactors.

If you’re in Illinois, act now here. If you have any friends at all, any relatives, business colleagues, if a part of any e-mail list you’re on, includes anyone from Illinois, send them this link to our action page: And please post it on every social network you’re on.

As we’ve said, this is the most important state action this year. And the outcome will have national implications. It matters to all of us. Act. Now.

Michael Mariotte

April 2, 2015


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Filed under: nuclear industry Tagged: Commonwealth Edison, Exelon, Illinois, NEIS

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