Caulkins clarifies statements about power plant

He says he is working to keep the plant open but cannot predict if it will happen or for how long

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CLINTON — Contrary to a local rumor, Rep. Dan Caulkins said he did not declare Clinton Power Station would remain open for another 40-50 years.

Caulkins told the Clinton Journal Wednesday that statements he made about Clinton Power Station were misconstrued.  He said, while he is working to try to keep the plant open past its scheduled closure in 2026, there was no way to predict if the plan would be successful or for how long.

At least two current candidates for DeWitt County Board have repeatedly claimed Clinton Power Station would not close, as scheduled.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation in 2016 to keep Illinois’ nuclear plants open.  Exelon had earlier announced its planned closure of the Clinton facility citing increased competition from other energy producers.

Caulkins said he felt that the schedule for closure of the Clinton plant was an “artificial end date.”  

“I promised and am actively working to try to keep that power station open,” he said.  “I think it has a productive life well past the six or seven years.  I might have said 30 or 40 or 50 years, but who knows.  I’m not an engineer.”

Caulkins said he felt it unfair for the state to mandate that the Clinton Power Station should close.  He said he was working with the state, ComEd/Exelon and Ameren to work out a plan for keeping the plant open past its scheduled closure.

He said Exelon officials talked optimistically about keeping the plant open.

“They would like to keep it open, but it has to be financially viable,” Caulkins said.

Unfortunately, Exelon is now caught up in the lobbying scandal involving Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“That has given the opponents to that deal fodder to try to oppose it.”

Caulkins said that was causing proponents of the effort to “lay low” until the scandal is resolved.

In the meantime, the effort remains ongoing, he said.