House committee urged to oppose bans on U.S.-China nuclear energy cooperation
Two of the state’s six nuclear plants nearly closed in 2016, but legislative action saved them. Now two more are at risk.
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?
Salem Nuclear Power Plant as photographed from Delaware Bay.
When a nuclear power plant closes, here is what happens:
Thousands of people lose their jobs. The local economy nosedives. Air pollution increases. Reliance on natural gas, often bought from out-of-state, goes up. Electricity on the grid becomes less reliable with the loss of the most reliable source of power. And electric prices can even rise.
A screenshot from the Kurzgesagt YouTube video
The German animation studio Kurzgesagt released a new video to its English YouTube channel last week to answer the question, “Do we need nuclear energy to stop climate change?” The studio’s channel on YouTube is self-described as a small team working to make science look beautiful. Its videos discuss a variety of scientific, technological, philosophical, and psychological questions, and it has more than 14 million subscribers. The channel recently discussed the question of deaths caused by radiation—spoiler alert, nuclear is among the safest of all energy production.
Statement from American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and CEO Craig Piercy
On behalf of America’s nuclear engineers and scientists, the American Nuclear Society welcomes the release of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. We are thrilled to see the inclusion of America’s largest carbon-free energy technology, nuclear energy, in Biden’s infrastructure plan to reenergize and decarbonize our economy.
Byron (left) and Dresden (right) may be looking at early retirement if Springfield doesn't pass an energy package before the fall of 2021.
On August 27, I stood in front of small groups of socially distanced employees at our Dresden Generating Station in Illinois, announcing plans for the premature retirement of the nuclear facility next fall. A hundred miles away, our chief operating officer was delivering a similar, equally somber announcement to employees at the Byron Station.
Despite being among the safest, most efficient, and reliable nuclear plants in the nation, Dresden and Byron face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and market rules that allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean merchant nuclear resources in the PJM capacity auction, even though there is broad public support for sustaining and expanding clean energy resources to address the climate crisis.