Exelon files to deactivate the Byron reactors

June 18, 2021, 12:06PMUpdated June 18, 2021, 4:50PMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear power plant.

Exelon on June 16 filed with grid operator PJM Interconnection to deactivate the two Byron reactors in Illinois. The move came one day after the Illinois Senate adjourned without reaching an agreement on a comprehensive energy package that would have provided nearly $700 million to keep Byron’s reactors, as well as Exelon’s Dresden and Braidwood nuclear power plants, in operation. (In August of 2020, Exelon announced 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.) The state’s House of Representatives also adjourned earlier this week without taking up the bill.

No deal yet in Illinois for Exelon nuclear plants

June 17, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Illinois Senate adjourned on June 15 without calling a comprehensive energy regulatory reform package for a vote, Capitol News Illinois reported. State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D., Chicago) and Senate president Don Harmon (D., Oak Park) said afterward that they expect a vote to happen sometime this summer as negotiations continue.

Byron, Dresden, Quad Cities fail to clear in PJM capacity auction

June 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Byron nuclear power plant

Three Illinois nuclear power plants—Byron, Dresden, and Quad Cities—did not clear in last week’s long-delayed PJM Interconnection capacity auction, Exelon Generation reported in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The news is likely to further pressure the Illinois General Assembly to pass a comprehensive energy package—one with subsidies for the state’s financially ailing nuclear plants—before Exelon moves forward with its plan, announced last August, to prematurely retire Byron and Dresden.

ANS, others throw weight behind bill to aid troubled Illinois nuclear plants

May 26, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A large group of nuclear and nuclear-friendly organizations, including the American Nuclear Society, sent a letter on May 24 to Illinois lawmakers urging them to pass the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA) before the legislature adjourns at the end of this month.

Among its provisions, the bill would create 74 million megawatt-hours of carbon mitigation credits for Exelon’s Braidwood, Byron, Dresden, and LaSalle nuclear plants. The Clinton and Quad Cities plants, which participate in Illinois’s zero-emission credit program, would not be eligible. (In August of last year, Exelon Generation, owner and operator of all six nuclear plants in Illinois, announced that it would close Byron and Dresden without state support of some kind, adding that Braidwood and LaSalle were also imperiled.)

Time for Illinois’s nuclear advocates to turn up the volume

May 21, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. Photo: Teemu008/Wikipedia

As Illinois lawmakers race to hammer out a compromise clean energy bill before the current legislative session adjourns on May 31, advocacy group Nuclear Matters is asking members of the state’s nuclear community to speak up in support of state aid for the struggling Byron and Dresden nuclear plants, both of which are scheduled to be prematurely retired later this year by Exelon.

Nuclear Matters has launched a letter-writing campaign to encourage individuals to contact their representatives via a pre-drafted letter to urge passage of legislation that will provide that aid. The letter is one of general support for Illinois’s nuclear plants and not an endorsement of any specific measure.

Report: Existing and advanced nuclear best for meeting Illinois’s climate goals

May 18, 2021, 12:10PMNuclear News

Among the 12 energy-mix scenarios analyzed in a new report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, maintaining the current Illinois reactor fleet while also investing in advanced nuclear technology and renewable energy is the most economical path to zero carbon for the state. It is also, says the report, the path that generates the lowest lifecycle carbon emissions.

The 26-page report, Economic and Carbon Impacts of Potential Illinois Nuclear Plant Closures: The Cost of Closures, was coauthored by Kathryn Huff, who was recently appointed principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Department of Energy, along with Madicken Munk, a research scientist in the university’s Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) Department, and Sam Dotson, a graduate researcher in NPRE’s Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycle Analysis group. Financial support for the report was provided by Nuclear Matters.

Exelon on governor’s plan to save Byron, Dresden: “not adequate”

May 10, 2021, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Byron nuclear power plant

Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker’s proposal to subsidize the state’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants, introduced in legislative form last week, falls short, Exelon Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Crane said on May 5 during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

“From what we’ve heard, it’s open to negotiation, but just going from the street analyst opinion and what we’ve seen, its starting point is not adequate to keep the plants’ continued operations going,” Crane stated.

The consequences of closure: The local cost of shutting down a nuclear power plant

May 7, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire

When on May 7, 2013, the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in rural Wisconsin was shut down, it took with it more than 600 full-time jobs and more than $70 million in lost wages, not including temporary employment from refueling and maintenance outages. Taking into account indirect business-to-business activity, the total economic impact of the closure of the single-unit pressurized water reactor was estimated to be more than $630 million to the surrounding three-county area.

Illinois governor backs limited aid to two nuclear plants

May 4, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Pritzker

The office of Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker last week unveiled an ambitious energy plan for the state that includes limited subsidies for the financially ailing Byron and Dresden nuclear plants. (In August 2020, Exelon Generation announced that the two Illinois facilities would close this year—Byron in September and Dresden in November—without some form of compensation from the state, due to “market rules that favor polluting power plants over carbon-free nuclear energy.”)

The new plan, dubbed the Consumers and Climate First Act, calls for achieving 100 percent clean energy generation in Illinois by 2050 and recognizes nuclear as a means toward that end. “In the near term, the closure of nuclear plants in Illinois is likely to result in a generation gap that will be filled by dirty energy, namely fossil fuels,” the act states, adding that any support for nuclear should be “short-term and based on clearly demonstrated need.”

A state of uncertainty: Nuclear power in Illinois

April 30, 2021, 5:01AMNuclear NewsMichael McQueen

If there is one U.S. state you might think would be on top of the nuclear-plant-retirement problem, it’s Illinois: With 11 power reactors, more than any other state, it is number one in nuclear generating capacity. In 2019, 54 percent of its in-state generation came from nuclear power. So why, at this writing in mid-April, does Illinois still face the possibility of losing two of its nuclear plants later this year?

Consultant recommends subsidies for Exelon plants

April 16, 2021, 2:59PMUpdated April 19, 2021, 10:56AMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear plant is currently slated for permanent closure in September. Photo: Exelon

A research and consulting firm hired by Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker’s administration to scrutinize the financial fitness of Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants approves of limited state subsidies for the facilities, according to a redacted version of the firm’s report made available yesterday.

Webinar summary: The role of nuclear in Illinois

April 7, 2021, 3:39PMANS Nuclear CafeAmanda Bachmann, Anna Balla, Jimmy Shehee
Byron Generating Station. Photo: Exelon

The University of Illinois Student Section and Chicago Local Section of the American Nuclear Society hosted a webinar, The Role of Nuclear Power in Illinois, on Wednesday, March 31. The webinar provided information for state lawmakers and the general public about the potential consequences of closing the Byron and Dresden Generating Stations, two of the nuclear power plants in the state of Illinois.

The webinar recording has been archived and is available for viewing for free at the above link.

Bill to preserve Illinois nuclear fleet debuts

March 31, 2021, 5:00AMNuclear News
Exelon's Byron Nuclear Generating Station.

A group of Illinois lawmakers joined Joe Duffy, executive director of the labor coalition Climate Jobs Illinois (CJI), at a virtual news conference on March 29 to unveil a union-focused, clean energy legislative proposal that includes help for the state’s struggling nuclear power plants.

Exelon to split into two companies

February 25, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

Exelon's Byron generating station in northern Illinois. The future of Byron is uncertain at this time and could impact the new power generation company, once it's formed.

Exelon Corporation announced yesterday that it intends to spin off Exelon Generation, its competitive power generation and customer-facing energy businesses, from Exelon Utilities, its group of six regulated electric and gas utilities.

The split into two publicly traded companies will “establish the nation’s largest fully regulated transmission and distribution utility company and the largest carbon-free power producer paired with the leading customer-facing platform for clean, sustainable energy solutions,” Exelon said in its February 24 announcement.

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.

NRC agrees to review Westinghouse ATF topical report

January 26, 2021, 3:03PMNuclear News

Westinghouse last week announced via blog post that a topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT) fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision a “major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing as part of our EnCore fuel program.”

The company submitted the report in May of last year, requesting approval by February 2022. According to Westinghouse, a draft safety evaluation from the agency is expected this summer.

EIA: Nuclear, coal will account for majority of U.S. generating capacity retirements in 2021

January 13, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest inventory of electric generators, 9.1 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity is scheduled to retire in 2021.

In total, it appears that 30 plants (nuclear, coal, petroleum, and others) will be retired in 2021. Five nuclear reactors are included in the closure list—Indian Point-3, Byron (two units at the plant), and Dresden (two units at the plant). Those three plants produce 5.1 GW of power, accounting for more than half of the total capacity expected to be retired.

Illinois AFL-CIO releases updated nuclear impacts report

January 11, 2021, 9:28AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In response to Exelon’s announcement of the premature closure of two Illinois nuclear power plants—Byron and Dresden—the Illinois AFL-CIO released an updated version of the Brattle Group’s Illinois Nuclear Impacts Report.

The report highlights the economic losses and environmental impacts Illinois’ and its local communities will face with the retirement of these plants, according to a January 5 article posted to the 23WIFR website.

The year in review 2020: Power and Operations

January 8, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear News

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Power and Operations section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Power and Operations section

Exelon CEO urges Illinois legislators to save nuclear plants

January 6, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

Crane

Christopher Crane, president and chief executive officer of Exelon, wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, “The failure of national energy markets to support clean energy will soon force the premature retirement of two of [Illinois’s] six zero-carbon nuclear plants, putting thousands of people out of work, raising energy costs, and taking us decades backward in the fight against climate change."

Crane urged Illinois policymakers to act quickly, as they face critical decisions about the future of energy that will affect the state’s environment, the economy, and the health of every family for years to come.