The Braidwood (left) and Byron nuclear power plants. (Photos: Constellation Energy)
Constellation Energy has announced that it intends to invest $800 million in new equipment at the Braidwood and Byron nuclear plants in Illinois to raise their combined output by a total of about 135 MW.
Constellation Energy's Clinton nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)
Constellation Energy, owner and operator of the nation’s largest reactor fleet, will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating licenses of the Clinton and Dresden reactors by 20 years, the company announced Monday, adding that it expects to file license applications with the agency in 2024.
One of two cases that display the impressive belt-buckle collection.
Collecting belt buckles from nearly every nuclear power plant in the U.S. wasn’t the goal for Don Hildebrant when he obtained his first one. Over time, it just turned out that way.
One day years ago, Hildebrant came across a buckle from the nuclear plant where he worked, and it seemed before he knew it, he had collected more than 250 of them—some from plants that were never even completed. “When you look at the collection, you will see an interesting story of where nuclear power has been, and how far it has come,” he said.
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.”
Juan Collar led a team of UChicago physicists who built a lightweight, portable neutrino detector to observe the elusive interactions of the ghostly particles. (Photo: Jean Lachat)
Constellation Energy’s Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois is helping University of Chicago researchers to detect neutrinos in an effort to advance knowledge of the fundamental laws governing particle and nuclear interactions. The researchers are taking advantage of the large number of neutrinos generated by Dresden’s boiling water reactors to conduct experiments, using what UChicago calls the world’s smallest neutrino detector to track and record the ghostlike particles.
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.
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 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.
Governor J. B. Pritzker says he will sign the landmark legislation
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.
Statement from American Nuclear Society President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy on passage of Illinois Senate Bill 2408:
"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.
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.
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.)
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 (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.