A host of Exelon Corp. nuclear power plants—one of which is closing later this year and another which almost was closed—delivered all-time records on emissions-free power generation this past year, the company reported.
The Exelon Generation nuclear fleet produced all-time highs in carbon-free power despite the ravages of COVID-19 on the economy and workforces. These plants include the Byron, Braidwood, Clinton, LaSalle, Quad Cities and Dresden stations in Illinois, as well as plants in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.
Altogether, Exelon announced, the nuclear power plant fleet produced nearly 150 million MWh of electricity in 2020, the equivalent of taking 32 million automobiles off the road. Capacity factors at all of the units averaged 95.4 percent.
“The reliable generation of electricity is important in any year, but in 2020 that job became even more vital as every facet of our lives was challenged by the pandemic,” said Dave Rhoades, Chief Nuclear Officer of Exelon Generation. “Our frontline, essential workers battled weather extremes of heat and cold and multiple storms in 2020, all while adjusting to new procedures and safety measures brought on by COVID-19. Our mission is to safely deliver carbon-free, reliable energy for customers and we’re grateful to our employees for accomplishing that goal.”
The Bryon and Dresden stations each set their own records for the shortest refueling and maintenance outage duration. Bryon and Dresden (pictured), despite their efficiencies, are being closed later this year, and the former completed its final scheduled outage in October 2020, according to reports.
Braidwood, Clinton, LaSalle and Quad Cities also set annual records for amount of electricity generated at each station, accounting for nearly 90 percent of Illinois’ carbon-free energy produced, according to Exelon. Braidwood is licensed to operate into the late 2040s, while Quad Cities is commissioned after Exelon scrapped its decision to close the plant in 2018 once the state’s Future Energy Jobs incentive bill was passed.
This is the third consecutive year Exelon’s planned refueling outages averaged 22 days or fewer. Electricians, pipe fitters, welders, carpenters, laborers and other workers from union halls play a critical role in completing the tasks, inspections and other maintenance activities during outages to get the reactors back online producing electricity.
“Exelon provides thousands of jobs for highly-skilled union workers across Northern Illinois,” said Terry McGoldrick, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 15. “The highly skilled, hard work of these employees ensures Illinois’ nuclear power plants operate safely and provide the region with reliable, carbon-free power.”