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.

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.)

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.

Nine Mile Point picked for hydrogen demonstration project

August 20, 2021, 4:08PMNuclear News
Nine Mile Point (Photo: Constellation Energy)

Exelon Generation has received a grant from the Department of Energy to explore the potential benefits of on-site hydrogen production and has chosen its Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant as the demonstration site, the company announced on Wednesday. (In 2019, Exelon received a conditional commitment from the DOE to co-fund a hydrogen electrolyzer demonstration at a nuclear plant.) Located in Scriba, N.Y., Nine Mile Point consists of two boiling water reactors—the 620-MWe Unit 1 and the 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

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!”

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.

Matthew Marzano named 2022 American Nuclear Society congressional fellow

August 10, 2021, 4:36PMPress Releases

Marzano

The American Nuclear Society has selected Matthew Marzano to serve as the 2022 Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow. Marzano is a senior reactor operator at Exelon Generation’s Braidwood nuclear power plant in Braidwood, Ill.

“Matt is in a unique position to provide significant technical assistance to the U.S. Congress on nuclear energy, particularly now as there are important discussions that will shape the future of U.S. energy policy,” said Harsh S. Desai, chair of the ANS Congressional Fellowship Committee and a former congressional fellow himself.

“Members of Congress and their staff will greatly benefit from Matt’s depth of experience in commercial and defense nuclear power plant operations,” Desai said. “The fellowship will also be an opportunity for Matt to develop his policy expertise and learn ‘how the sausage is made.’”

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.)

ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

August 4, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Irradiated lead test rods are delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. (Photo: ORNL)

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

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.

Nuclear advocacy group presses for legislative action in Illinois

July 26, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Czerwinski

Writing in today’s suburban Chicago Daily Herald, Madison Czerwinski, executive director of Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal, warns of the damage to Illinois’s clean energy aspirations should the state’s policymakers fail to agree in time on legislation providing some form of aid to Exelon’s imperiled Byron and Dresden nuclear plants, both of which are slated for closure later this year. (And “in time” in this case means the next few weeks.)

Czerwinski notes in a guest column that despite the executive order signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January 2019 committing Illinois to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris climate agreement, electricity emissions in the state are up from last year by 36 percent—a number that will only grow in the event an acceptable bill is not forthcoming.

U.S. power sector emissions drop in 2020

July 26, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector fell 10 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to the 17th and latest edition of Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States, which was released last week. The drop is the largest year-over-year decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since the initial report was issued in 1997. Further, CO2 emissions are shown to be down 20 percent from 1990 levels and 40 percent from their 2007 peak.

The 48-page analysis—which combines generation and fuel consumption data from the Energy Information Administration with emissions data on CO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury from the Environmental Protection Agency—was authored by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a consulting firm focused on energy and environmental issues. Listed as “contributors” to the report are Bank of America, the nonprofit organization Ceres, energy producers Entergy and Exelon, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

N.J. Supreme Court rejects nuclear subsidy appeal

July 21, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Salem nuclear power plant. (Photo: Peretzp)

In the latest legal action over the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) April 2019 order providing subsidies to the Hope Creek and Salem nuclear plants, the state’s Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal.

Exelon touts reliability of nuclear as time runs short to save Byron, Dresden

July 20, 2021, 3:49PMNuclear News
The Dresden nuclear power plant (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

As Illinois lawmakers continue to debate energy legislation that would allow the state’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants to continue operation beyond this year, Exelon would like to remind everyone—including those legislators, no doubt—of what is at stake.

PSEG quickens pace to net zero

June 29, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Hope Creek nuclear power plant

New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group has announced its intention to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, shaving two decades off its previously announced target date of 2050. PSEG is owner of the Hope Creek nuclear plant and is co-owner, with Exelon, of the Salem plant.

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.