Chicago Tribune editorial board asks, “Is nuclear power good for Illinois?”

April 25, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Byron nuclear power plant

In an editorial published recently in the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper’s editorial board states, “As for the U.S., power generation from splitting atoms has declined in recent years, and more reactors are being retired than built. If you’re in Illinois, however, you’re all-in on nuclear energy—for better or worse. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has made sure of that.”

Exelon split completed; Constellation launched

February 2, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Constellation, formerly Exelon Generation, owner and operator of the nation’s largest nuclear reactor fleet, announced this morning the completion of its separation from Exelon Corporation and its launch as a stand-alone, publicly traded company. Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., the new company began trading today on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CEG.”

Exelon announced last February that it had begun the effort to separate its utility businesses from its competitive power generation and customer-facing energy businesses.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News July through September

January 7, 2022, 2:24PMNuclear News

This is the fourth of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the July-September time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

Granholm promotes nuclear and Build Back Better

December 14, 2021, 7:32AMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm tours the Braidwood control room on December 9. (Photo: Exelon)

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm toured the Braidwood nuclear plant in Illinois last week as part of a statewide tour to promote the climate provisions in the recently passed trillion-dollar infrastructure law and the Build Back Better Act, over which the Senate continues to haggle.

NRC okays license transfers for Exelon plants

November 18, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the indirect transfer of the licenses for 23 operating and five decommissioning reactors, as well as their associated independent spent fuel storage installations, from Exelon Corporation to a new company as part of a corporate restructuring, the agency announced yesterday.

Byron, Dresden to receive nine-digit investments

September 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Workers perform maintenance during Byron’s refueling outage. (Photo: Exelon)

Exelon Generation announced yesterday that it is investing more than $300 million in capital projects at its Byron and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois over the next five years and filling some 650 vacant positions across the state.

These actions are in response to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent signing of S.B. 2408, the hard-won legislation that rescued the nuclear facilities from premature retirement.

Illinois governor signs energy bill aiding nuclear plants

September 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker appreciates applause at the signing event for the state's new energy bill.

In an hour-long ceremony held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium amid some fanfare (it included an appearance by lizards, a snake, and a penguin), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (S.B. 2408). The bill is a sweeping overhaul of the state’s energy policies aimed at phasing out fossil-fuel power generation and placing Illinois on a path to become a 100 percent carbon-free energy producer by 2050.

Bill to preserve Illinois nuclear passes legislature

September 14, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News
The Byron (left) and Dresden generating stations.

The yearlong, nail-biting drama over the fate of Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants came to an end on Monday afternoon when the Illinois Senate gave its nod to S.B. 2408, a wide-ranging clean energy package that seeks to phase out fossil-fuel power generation in the state and place it on a path to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050.

The American Nuclear Society applauds passage of Illinois clean energy legislation

September 13, 2021, 2:43PMPress Releases

"The American Nuclear Society welcomes passage of legislation to secure Illinois' clean energy future by preventing the slated premature closures of Bryon and Dresden nuclear power plants. Over 4.3 gigawatts of irreplaceable carbon-free nuclear power and more than 1,500 jobs at the nuclear power plants have been saved.

Byron, Dresden saved by the bill? An update

September 10, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear power plant

(This story has been updated from yesterday's post about the Illinois energy package.)

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois House has approved a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save the plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

Byron, Dresden saved by the bill?

September 9, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois General Assembly may be close to passing a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save that plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

House Democrats have introduced an amendment to S.B. 2408 that would require municipally owned coal plants to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and completely phase out coal by 2045. The House is considering the amendment today.

(Financial assistance to Illinois’s nuclear fleet is part of a package that for weeks has been mired in disagreement between unions and environmental groups over the fate of the state’s coal plants.)

ANS calls on nuclear community in fight to save Byron and Dresden

September 3, 2021, 12:12PMANS News
The Byron (left) and Dresden generating stations.

Exelon’s Byron nuclear plant will be permanently shuttered in 10 days unless the Illinois House of Representatives passes the clean energy bill approved by the state’s Senate on September 1. And as the lower chamber is expected to convene for a special session sometime next week to consider the measure, ANS is encouraging members of Illinois’s nuclear community to make their position on the matter clear via ANS engage.

Hope still alive for Byron, Dresden plants

September 1, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Dresden nuclear power plant

With essentially no time to spare, the Illinois Senate early this morning passed a clean energy omnibus package that includes $694 million in assistance to three of the state’s financially troubled nuclear plants: Braidwood, Byron, and Dresden. The vote was 39–16. (Both the Senate and House had returned to the capital on Tuesday for a one-day special session to consider legislative redistricting.)

Illinois lawmakers try one more time to save imperiled nuclear plants

August 31, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

Yesterday morning with about two weeks to go before the scheduled permanent closure of Illinois’s Byron nuclear power plant, state Sen. Michael Hastings (D., 19th Dist.) filed a proposal to end the state legislature’s stalemate on a clean energy package that would, among other things, provide financial aid to Byron, as well as to other endangered nuclear power facilities in the state, via a carbon mitigation credit program.

Kinzinger urges Biden to save Illinois plants from early closure

August 24, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Kinzinger

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.

Chicago news program spotlights nuclear plants slated to close in Illinois

August 18, 2021, 3:05PMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screenshot of Illinois legislators before session from an August 17 video of the Chicago Tonight television program. (Source: YouTube)

Yesterday, a television news program, Chicago Tonight, shined the spotlight on the financial troubles and potential shutdown of two of Illinois’s six nuclear power plants. The host of the show introduced the issue by stating, “Illinois lawmakers may be back in Springfield [the state’s capital] soon for a second extra session [to] strike a deal on a massive energy package.” Readers of Nuclear News might be thinking, “It’s about time!”

Kinzinger and Doyle reunite to preserve existing nuclear

August 13, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News
Kinzinger (left) and Doyle (right).

Last week, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) and Mike Doyle (D., Pa.) introduced legislation that would establish a financial credit program for economically challenged nuclear power plants and would authorize funding for “nuclear closure communities.”

The Preserving Existing Nuclear Energy Generation Act (H.R. 4960) is the House companion to certain provisions in a Senate proposal that was reported favorably by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on July 14 and was subsequently included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan package that the Senate passed earlier this week via a 69–30 vote.

A tale of three states

August 11, 2021, 2:57PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Stories are unfolding (or have unfolded) in three of our key states that illustrate the challenges facing the backbone of our country’s clean, reliable electricity generation infrastructure. I write, of course, about existing nuclear power plants. On the East Coast, New York is a done deal. Indian Point-3 shut down on April 30. The state authorities are banking on offshore wind to pick up the slack. They shrug off the cost and intermittency challenges associated with deploying wind power. We’ll see.

Exelon still “hopeful” for state aid to IL plants, but solution remains in limbo

August 5, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

A $6 billion lifeline for struggling U.S. nuclear power plants is reportedly included in the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being mulled over in the U.S. Senate, but it won’t be thrown in time to rescue Illinois’s Byron and Dresden plants, according to owner and operator Exelon.

In an August 4 statement on second-quarter earnings, Exelon’s president and chief executive officer, Chris Crane, noted that while his company is encouraged by the growth of federal support for policies that acknowledge the value of nuclear’s clean energy generation, “passage of legislation remains uncertain and, regardless, will come too late to save our Byron and Dresden plants from early retirement this fall. While we remain hopeful that a state solution will pass in time to save the plants, clean energy legislation in Illinois remains caught in negotiations over unrelated policy matters, leaving us no choice but to continue down the path of closing the plants.” (Last August, Exelon announced its intention to prematurely retire Byron and Dresden, citing long­standing economic pressures. Last week, the company filed decommissioning plans for the two nuclear facilities.)

Decommissioning plans submitted for Byron, Dresden

July 28, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear News
The Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants.

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.