Exelon Generation begins stage one of $7 million Quad Cites project
Exelon Generation recently began construction on the first of several projects at its Quad Cities Station, a $7 million plan to significantly expand the station’s existing Professional Learning Center, according to a press release.
According to a Clinton Herald report, Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) credited the Professional Learning Center project and others that Exelon will undertake to last year’s Future Energy Jobs Act. The law traded subsidies for Exelon for keeping the Quad Cities and Clinton stations open and offered other perks, like rate caps, a December 2016 Herald & Review article reports.
The expansion project is the first of several that will lead to more than $20 million fed back into the community through contracts for area developers and suppliers, the press release said.
“We are committed to advancing the economic vitality of the communities where we live and work,” Ken Ohr, vice president of the Quad Cities Station site, said in the release. “Through this project, we are demonstrating our dedication to working with diversity-certified suppliers in our local Illinois and Quad Cities community. Our commitment to supplier diversity expands access to valuable opportunities for minority-, women- and veteran-owned suppliers and boosts economic growth in the communities we serve.”
The project will increase the area of the current Professional Learning Center by 36,000 square feet, nearly doubling the existing structure, Exelon said. The building will serve as a training facility for supplemental workers at the plant, who come on at least an annual basis for refuel outages. Exelon noted that the new facility will also allow the Quad Cities Station to discontinue its usage of temporary buildings that would otherwise require frequent maintenance.
The lead contractor for the project is Burling Builders Inc., a Chicago-based and African-American firm that is in line with Exelon’s goals to promote diversity-certified suppliers. Quad Cities-based companies will be looped into the project via Burling.
“Burling Builders is excited to be working on the Quad Cities Professional Learning Center project,” Ryan Clancy-Leodoro, Burling's director of business development, said in the release. “As a diverse prime partner on this project, BBI is committed to constructing this facility in a safe, quality manner with key partnerships with local firms. Like Exelon Generation, BBI is committed to a diverse workforce that reflects the communities it serves.”
According to a December 2014 release from the Senate Republican Caucus, the Future Energy Jobs Act ensures that the Quad Cities station will remain open for at least 10 more years, during which residential rates cannot increase by more than 25 cents on average, and commercial and industrial rates cannot increase by more than 1.3 percent.
"This legislation not only saves our area from losing 800 direct jobs, 1,200 indirect jobs, and the largest property taxpayer in Rock Island County, but it is also sound environmental policy that will secure our power supply and keep energy costs down, which is a win for ratepayers,” Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Rock Island) said, according to the caucus.
While the act received support from Exelon and environmental groups – thanks to provisions on renewable energy investment – it was not universally praised, according to the Herald & Review. Opponents criticized the subsidies included in the bill, amounting to approximately $235 million for Exelon, and argued that savings projected from increased energy efficiency were overstated.
Speaking to the Clinton Herald after Exelon announced the start of the Professional Learning Center project, McCombie credited the bill with averting disaster for area residents and workers at the station.
“It was really a scary time for about a year, and people that worked here and supported this (the energy bill),” McCombie said, according to the Clinton Herald. "I can’t even imagine what would have happened if this place closed.”