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Surprise! Moody’s says Exelon bailout is “credit positive”

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

* Press release…

Illinois’ approval of zero emission standards (ZES) is credit positive for Exelon Generation Company, LLC (ExGen, Baa2 stable), as the subsidies are critical for the survival of two of its nuclear facilities, Quad City and Clinton, according to Moody’s. ZES is a 10-year subsidy to be paid by utility customers in their monthly bills, and Moody’s expects that relative to shutting down its plants, ExGen’s pre-tax cash flow will improve by about $160 million per year.

Many nuclear plants operating in deregulated power markets generate minimal or negative cash flow, and many are located in rural areas and serve as primary sources of employment and tax base. Closing these plants risk harm to local economies as well as states’ desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, Illinois’ ZES program is credit negative for Dynegy Inc (B2 stable) and NRG Energy, Inc. (Ba3 stable) because they own plants that burn coal or natural gas in the same market but are now at a competitive disadvantage without the subsidy.

Moody’s declaration of “credit positive” or “credit negative” does not connote a rating or outlook change. It is indicative of the impact of a distinct event or development as one of many credit factors affecting the issuer.

* Meanwhile

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved a 5 percent increase in the annual delivery rate for ComEd, expected to generate $127.5 million in additional revenue for the utility in 2017.

Most ComEd residential customers will see their bills go up by about $2 per month beginning in January, the company said Wednesday.

So, two bucks a month equals $127.5 million. The Exelon bill is supposed to raise twice that, but rate hikes for residential users are supposedly capped at 25 cents per month.

* The Sun-Times explanation

In 2017, customers will see dips in their bills based on savings from the change in energy efficiency program spending, according to an analysis conducted by the Illinois Commerce Commission. After five years, the analysis shows, rates would go up by 8 cents per customer per month, based on that reduced spending level.

But a separate analysis by the Citizens Utility Board factors in the impact of energy efficiency. By 2022, when the commission’s report shows a small bump, customers will already see bill savings due to energy efficiency efforts, which should equate to a savings of about $2 per customer a month, according to CUB.

The Illinois Commerce Commission study was used in negotiations with Rauner’s administration. And the governor and his staff helped ensure a rate cap increase of 25 cents a month for residential customers of ComEd and Ameren for 13 years. It also limits increases on commercial customers to a 1.3 percent increase over last year’s rates.

ComEd will present annual numbers each year to the Illinois Commerce Commission, which may cause the costs to fluctuate, but the rate impact will be capped at 25 cents, per the agreement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

Kennedy: “I’m in”

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

* The inimitable Michael Sneed

Businessman Chris Kennedy, Chicago’s link to the JFK dynasty who is eyeing a bid for governor, telling folks “I’m in” at the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago Christmas Luncheon on Friday.

How does Sneed know?

I was there.

* Meanwhile, Bernie talked to Cheri Bustos about her recent DC promotion and Gov. Rauner

“I have seen four (Illinois) governors go to prison in my lifetime, and yet, I have never seen a governor worse legislatively than Governor Rauner,” Bustos told me in a telephone interview. “He has been hurtful to so many people. And the fact that he cannot put his ego aside long enough to be able to sit down and be willing to compromise for the good of our state is very troubling. […]

Rauner has sparred with majority Democrats in the state legislature since he took office in 2015, and the state continues to operate without a full budget. Rauner has blamed House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Illinois, for blocking a deal as Rauner has insisted on what he calls reforms that Madigan has called non-budget issues that should be dealt with separately.

Is Madigan at fault?

“We’ve always had a budget up until Governor Rauner was in office,” Bustos said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

ILGOP operative defends tracker involvement

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

* Bernie writes about the Illinois Republican Party’s Statehouse video tracker

The GOP put out a video on Nov. 30 showing state Rep. SAM YINGLING, D-Grayslake, as he walked near the Statehouse. The tracker following Yingling asked if he would vote for Madigan for another term as speaker. The GOP obviously delighted in the response of Yingling, who didn’t stop or turn around, and said, “I don’t know. You should talk to him.” They put it on YouTube and issued a news release.

I’m not positive who the tracker was, but I do know that a Republican staffer, AARON DeGROOT, was at the Capitol that day, as he had a camera pointed at Madigan when the speaker addressed reporters following a meeting in Rauner’s office. I asked DeGroot if he was the tracker.

His response: “Rank-and-file Democrats have allowed boss Madigan to rule Illinois with an iron fist for decades, and I’m part of a team dedicated to holding those who refuse to stand up to Mike Madigan accountable.” […]

“Bruce Rauner has created such a toxic environment in Springfield that I question his ability to get anything done,” Yingling told me Wednesday. “He is spending all of his time continuing to campaign as opposed to governing.” […]

“You do not invest tens of millions of dollars into an otherwise-defunct organization and then take a hands-off approach,” Yingling said [of Gov. Rauner’s flat denial that he’s involved with the ILGOP actions].

Yingling badly muffed his tracker encounter, but he isn’t wrong here. It’s highly difficult to believe Rauner would turn over tens of millions of dollars and not be involved with any operations whatsoever. And if Rauner is somehow telling the truth, he needs to get up to speed with what’s being done with his money and in his name. Pronto.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

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Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

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* Surprise! Moody's says Exelon bailout is "credit positive"
* Kennedy: "I'm in"
* ILGOP operative defends tracker involvement
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x2 - Cullerton responds *** Rauner won't schedule leaders meeting until Dems "are ready"
* Yesterday's blog posts

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