Exelon touts reliability of Illinois nuclear plants

February 24, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

The Byron nuclear plant is scheduled to close this September. Photo: Exelon

Amid all the talk of last week’s winter storm and the resultant grid debacle in Texas, Exelon on Monday issued a press release informing customers of just how reliably its Illinois nuclear power plants have been operating this winter.

The release might also be seen as a message to state lawmakers, who have yet to produce any legislation to aid the utility’s financially challenged nuclear facilities—of which two, Byron and Dresden, have been slated for retirement later this year, given the (so-far) absence of such legislation.

The magnificent six: According to Exelon, all six of its Illinois nuclear plants (the other four are Braidwood, Clinton, LaSalle, and Quad Cities) operated at nearly 100 percent output levels last week, producing enough power to heat 11 million homes and businesses.

“We are dedicated to delivering carbon-free, reliable energy for our customers when they need it most,” said Dave Rhoades, Exelon Generation’s chief nuclear officer. “We’re grateful to our 4,500 Illinois full-time essential workers for accomplishing that goal while managing frigid temperatures and working safely during the pandemic. Our resiliency and commitment to operational excellence ensures reliability, especially during these extreme conditions.”

The Illinois fleet has proven its reliability year after year during Midwest deep freezes, Exelon stated, adding that its six plants recorded a near-perfect reliability rate last winter as well, running nearly 99 percent of their planned operating time.

Attention Texas: Exelon emphasized that winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning and maintenance. “Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and supplemental equipment is ready for inclement weather,” the utility said. “Last fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation facilities for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions, and heavy snowfall.”

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