Illinois lifts ban on some new nuclear construction

December 11, 2023, 12:13PMNuclear News

Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker returned to the good graces of the nuclear community last Friday, signing H.B. 2473, a bill that partially lifts the state’s decades-long moratorium on new nuclear power builds by permitting the construction of small modular reactors.

Pritzker had vetoed similar legislation, S.B. 76, in August, saying in a veto message that the bill included an overly broad definition of “advanced reactors,” which would “open the door to the proliferation of large-scale nuclear reactors that are so costly to build that they will cause exorbitant ratepayer-funded bailouts.” Pritzker had also asserted that S.B. 76 lacked “regulatory protections or updates to address the health and safety of Illinois residents who would live and work around these new reactors.”

Following that veto, the state’s nuclear-friendly legislature, including lead S.B. 76 sponsors Sen. Sue Rezin (R., 38th Dist.) and Rep. Lance Yednock (D., 76th Dist.), worked on revising the bill to the governor’s satisfaction. The new measure passed the Senate on November 8, 44–7, and the House of Representatives the following day, 98–8.

Clean bill of climate health: H.B. 2473, which goes into effect June 1 of next year, allows for the construction of advanced reactors with a rated nameplate capacity of 300 megawatts or less beginning January 1, 2026. In addition, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Office of Homeland Security is directed to establish rules for reactor decommissioning, environmental monitoring, and emergency preparedness by that date.

Further, the measure also calls for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to provide consultation and authorizes the governor to commission a new study to research the state’s role in guiding the development of new nuclear technology.

Words from the sponsors: “Illinois has a long, successful, and safe history of nuclear energy generation,” said Rezin. “The signing of House Bill 2473 will ensure that our state can remain a leader in the energy sector by offering us the ability to utilize the amazing advancements in new nuclear energy technology. Lifting our state’s archaic moratorium on new nuclear energy construction will open the door for companies that have been developing new advanced nuclear energy technology the opportunity to invest in Illinois.”

Yednock stated that the bill “moves us one step closer towards our goal of energy independence by allowing clean, reliable energy production in Illinois,” and that “by leading on this issue, Illinois is signaling to the rest of the country that we are open for business and ready for much needed economic development.”

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