SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A bill ending the state’s moratorium on building nuclear power plants is just one step away from becoming law.
The bill is the second attempt to remove the ban. Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature passed a bipartisan bill ending the state’s decades-long ban on building new nuclear power plants. Governor J.B. Pritzker ended up vetoing the bill in August, citing concerns that the bill’s language was too vague to the point of too many reactors would be built in the state. There is more specific language in the second bill.
Proponents for the bill argue nuclear power is essential for the state’s goals of clean energy.
“Nuclear accounts for about half of our energy in the state, and 90% of our carbon-free energy,” Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa), the sponsor of the bill, said. “In order to achieve our clean energy goals, we may have to invest in more nuclear-generated carbon-free energy.”
Manufacturers, who use around one-third of all energy in the United States, view more nuclear power would keep energy affordable for businesses.
“Ensuring there are safe, reliable, and low-cost sources of energy is critically important for our sector and consumers who rely on these products,” Illinois Manufacturing Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said. “Today’s passage of HB 2473 will allow Illinois to continue leading in energy and manufacturing innovation with the use of small, micronuclear technology.”
Environmental groups still have many concerns about the bill.
“[We’re] also concerned that while limits it to the so-called small nuclear reactors, 300 megawatts, which is about the size of a small coal plant, but it doesn’t limit the number of them.” Jack Darin, the director of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “So you could conceivably stack a number of these on one site and have as much nuclear energy is one of the big reactors that we know.”
Yednock’s bill passed the House committee 19-1-1 and the House floor 98-8 Thursday morning.
The bill goes into effect in January 2026 if signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. The governor’s office is in support of the bill.