With a note of desperation, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) yesterday wrote a letter to President Biden and several top administration officials, asking them to consider the use of emergency powers to keep two Illinois nuclear power plants, Byron and Dresden, in operation, at least until state or federal laws are enacted to ensure their financial viability.
On June 16, the plants’ owner and operator, Exelon Generation, filed a deactivation notice for the two Byron units with grid operator PJM Interconnection. The requested deactivation dates for Byron-1 and -2 are September 14 and 16, respectively.
Exelon announced in August of last year that it would close the economically challenged Byron and Dresden facilities in the fall of 2021 without some form of state aid to provide compensation for their clean power.
Legislative action on a clean energy package that includes assistance for the utility’s endangered plants has stalled in Springfield (the state's capital), not over the nuclear subsidies but over lingering disagreements between environmental groups and labor unions on the timeline for the closing of coal and natural gas plants.
Biden time? After sending the letter, Kinzinger released a statement, saying in part, “The failure of leadership in Springfield has been astonishing, and has now made the closures of Byron and Dresden imminent. Despite the fact that Congress is finally poised to pass my bipartisan legislation—the Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation Act, which provides a financial credit program to these plants and others—the program would still take time to implement. And while such legislation would be able to help other struggling nuclear plants around the country, it is unlikely to be able to help Byron or Dresden, as they are slated to close in the coming weeks. This, of course, is a serious problem and one that requires swift action. My constituents and the communities I serve are desperately asking me for help, so I’m pulling out all the stops.”
Noteworthy: According to a news update from state Sen. Sue Rezin (R., 38th Dist., Ill.), legislative leaders announced last Friday that the Illinois General Assembly would return to Springfield for a special session on August 31. The focus of the session, however, is to be on legislative redistricting. “There was no mention of energy legislation in their announcement,” Rezin said.