Social media push to save Quad Cities Exelon plant

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Thousands of people have joined together on social media, fighting against a plan to shut down the Quad Cities Exelon plant, but that still might not be enough to sway opinions down in Springfield for a crucial energy bill.

The news of the plant closing is a tough pill to swallow for Quad City leaders, but the number of people joining a recently-made Facebook page is creating some optimism.

Exelon announced earlier this month that if the Next Generation Energy Plan, a series of bills supporting clean and renewable energy, isn't passed in through the Illinois legislature this year, both the Quad Cities and Clinton, Illinois plants will have to close. The company says they won't be financially feasible to keep open, but that isn't stopping the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce from spreading the word about the value of these jobs.

The Support Exelon Quad Cities Facebook page has nearly 4,000 followers in about a week, and it's a way of showing legislators that the decision they're about to make will impact hundreds of people.

"It's been overwhelming, and overwhelmingly positive. It's getting the media interested, so they're inquiring about it, which is great. We're finding many ways to get the message out about the importance of Exelon to the Quad Cities region," Jason Gordon with the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce said.

It's also been a way for people who work at the Exelon plant to show from their perspective what the jobs mean to them.

"They're using their dogs or their families to communicate the importance of the facility to their families and to the community. We think it's a great way to communicate to the people in the Quad Cities region and to our elected officials in Springfield," Gordon said.

Even with the great social media support, Gordon still says it's hard to say if that'll make a difference when it comes to passing the energy bill. The Next Generation Energy plan failed last year, but Gordon and others remain cautiously optimistic.

Quad Cities Chamber members and Exelon representatives will be at a hearing in Springfield Thursday afternoon about the Next Generation Energy Plan to see what they can do to help keep the plant open.