Federal judge dismisses challenge to Illinois nuclear subsidies via Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week dismissed challenges to an Illinois program aimed at supporting nuclear generation, finding opponents lacked standing and had not exhausted their options in front of federal regulators.
  • The Illinois Legislature last year passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, providing $235 million in annual Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) payments to Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants. Independent generators cried foul, and argued the payments interfered in wholesale markets, which are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • But District Judge Manish Shah determined the ZEC program “falls within Illinois’s reserved authority over generation facilities.” 


Dive Insight:

In a win for state generation programs, the Illinois District court ruled decisively that the state has authority to subsidize nuclear generation, and that the ZEC program did not violate the implicit authority granted by the Constitution, allowing the federal government the right to regulate interstate trade.


The court’s decision aligns with Exelon’s argument. The utility said states have the legal authority to determine their fuel mixes, noting FERC’s support for similar renewable energy credit (REC) programs in the past. 

The 2016 Supreme Court case Hughes v. Talen Energywhich struck down a Maryland program to support gas generation, specifically prohibits such state intrusions on wholesale power auctions.  But Exelon lawyers argued in a legal brief that Justice Ginsberg’s narrow ruling intended to allow for state support programs like RECs and ZECs.

Read more at Federal judge dismisses challenge to Illinois nuclear subsidies

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