Thousands of workers from nuclear plants across Illinois made their way to Springfield on Tuesday, to lobby for a new energy plan that they say will save their jobs.
It’s a bill called the Next Generation Energy Plan. The legislation seeks to stop Illinois nuclear plants from closing, jump-start solar energy in the state, and provide $1 billion dollars in low-income energy programs.
Plant employees say the goal is to make sure that all energy-creators are treated equally.
“Right now, there’s a production tax credit for the windmills,” said Charles Keller, Engineering Director at the Byron Nuclear Plant. “Which is making it really unfavorable for [nuclear] generators. And we just want a level playing field, so we can generate electricity safely.”
Matthew Morrison has been working at the Clinton power plant for 11 years. He says without this bill, power plants are at risk of shutting down, leaving hundreds without jobs.
“What it will do is it will help the doors stay open by providing an even playing field for clean energy production and nuclear power,” said Morrison.
But some clean energy companies say the bill would be detrimental to business. The new plan would reportedly take away solar companies’ main method of measuring energy use — net metering. Experts say that would discourage people from investing in solar panels.
“Net metering is in place in over 40 states across the country,” said Amy Heart of Sunrun Solar. “It’s currently in place in Illinois, and it’s helping Solar to be able to grow across the country.”
The Next Generation Energy Plan is up for a vote in the Illinois Senate on Thursday.