Exelon Quits U.S. Chamber Over Climate Bill

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Global warming and the best ways to tackle it are causing fractures in the business community. Chicago-based Exelon is the latest utility to announce it will leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because it disagrees with the group's opposition to climate legislation. Exelon is the largest nuclear power operator in the U.S.

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And the business community is being roiled by the global warming debate. A power company based in Chicago has become the latest firm to announce it's leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because it disagrees with the group's opposition to climate legislation.

From Chicago Public Radio, Adriene Hill reports.

ADRIENE HILL: Exelon is one of the country's largest utility companies. In a statement, CEO John Rowe said, quote, "Putting a price on carbon is essential because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency first."

But according to Morningstar analyst Travis Miller, Exelon's public embrace of so-called cap-and-trade climate legislation is not necessarily altruistic.

Mr. TRAVIS MILLER (Stock Analyst, Morningstar): The cap-and-trade system, again, as it's been proposed, would almost definitely raise power prices for consumers across the country.

HILL: Higher prices mean higher profits. Miller says Exelon could benefit from climate legislation for another reason: a lot of its power comes from nuclear plants.

Mr. MILLER: Since nuclear power plants are essentially zero carbon-emitting generating facilities, they would not have any of the cost associated with the carbon cap-and-trade legislation.

HILL: An Exelon spokeswoman said the legislation could be good for the company and the environment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it isn't against reining in greenhouse gas population and that members come and go.

A climate bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate this week. The House passed a bill in June.

For NPR News, I'm Adriene Hill in Chicago.

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