Exelon promises to refuel Byron, Dresden nuclear power plants after Illinois legislators approve $700M package

Exelon Generation responded to the passage of a new subsidy bill for its nuclear power plants Monday by saying it will refuel the Byron and Dresden generation stations which were scheduled for closure this month.

The new bill promises some $700 million in support for economically struggling nuclear power sector. Nuclear power plants are generally older and much more expensive to operate, but also offer carbon-free electricity generation.

“We commend the Governor, the General Assembly, our partners at IBEW Local 15 and the coalition of labor leaders and members who worked so hard to pass this roadmap for rebuilding our economy and addressing the climate crisis by investing in clean energy in a way that ensures that jobs and environmental benefits are shared equitably,” said Christopher Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. “This new policy offers a better future for the employees who have run these plants at world-class levels, the plant communities that we are privileged to serve and all Illinoisans eager to build a clean-energy economy that works for everyone.” 

The new legislation also plans for a scale-up in renewable generation including wind and solar. The compromise also keeps some coal-fired plants in operation to lessen negative job impacts and provide some grid resiliency, but will require stricter emissions controls.

A new bill, approved by the state house and senate, makes the nuclear fleet a key part of the plan to reach net zero carbon emissions in power generation by 2050. This includes keeping carbon-free nuclear generation in the mix, while also increasing renewable energy projects.

In July, Exelon filed its decommissioning plan with federal regulators. The utility plans to close its Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants in Illinois as early as this month, short of a new deal to help improved reactor plant economics.

Byron Nuclear Generating Station was commissioned in the 1980s, while Dresden began commercial operations in the 1970s.

Author

  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com.

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