In what could be viewed as a rather pointed message to Illinois lawmakers that time is running out to pass legislation providing a lifeline to the state’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants, Exelon Generation this morning announced that it would file post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports (PSDARs) today with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The PSDARs detail long-term site restoration plans for the facilities, both of which are scheduled to shut down for good this fall—first Byron, in September, then Dresden, in November.
The filings are among the final steps in retiring the plants, which, according to Exelon, face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to low energy prices and market policies that give fossil fuel plants an unfair competitive advantage. Without a legislative solution, the company said, these same market conditions will force the closure of two more Illinois nuclear plants, Braidwood and LaSalle, “sometime in the next few years.”
A list of all the shutdown activities completed to date for Byron and Dresden is available here.
Can you hear me now? “With no signs of a breakthrough on clean energy legislation in Springfield, we have no choice but to take these final steps in preparation for shutting down the plants,” said Exelon Generation’s chief nuclear officer, Dave Rhoades. “We will never stop fighting for policies to preserve Illinois’s nuclear fleet, knowing that the minute these plants close, our customers will experience dirtier air and higher energy costs. But with time running out, we must plan for the future and do everything we can to prepare our employees and the communities they serve for what lies ahead.”
With the PSDARs complete, Exelon is now preparing to issue job reduction notifications to employees affected by the plant shutdowns. Staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees to just 30 to 40 employees over the next 10 years, the company said.
Exelon also noted that its Chicago-area plants support 28,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $3.5 billion annually to the Illinois economy. Shuttering Byron and Dresden, the company warned, “will have the immediate environmental impact equivalent to putting 4.4 million additional cars on the road, emitting carbon and other harmful sources of air pollution.”