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.

Exelon to Congress: Pass infrastructure and Build Back Better bills

November 4, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Crane

Exelon, owner and operator of the nation’s largest nuclear reactor fleet, has made clear its position on the massive infrastructure and social spending bills that federal lawmakers, at this writing, continue to haggle over.

“As world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26 to address the climate crisis, the need for America to take action has never been more urgent,” said Chris Crane, Exelon’s president and chief executive officer, on Monday. “The bipartisan infrastructure agreement and the policy framework for Build Back Better legislation will make us more competitive globally, spur innovation and support good-paying jobs, protect current and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change, and cement America’s leadership on one of the most pressing challenges—and opportunities—of our time. The time to act is now, and we encourage lawmakers to pass these critical policies into law.”

Michelle Zietlow-Miller: The ins and outs of outage management

October 8, 2021, 3:42PMNuclear NewsMichael McQueen

Michelle Zietlow-Miller

Michelle Zietlow-­Miller, outage manager at Exelon’s Quad Cities plant, had no particular interest in nuclear while growing up in the (very) small town of Great Bend, N.D. She was, however, good at math and science, and taking her mother’s advice to pursue a career in engineering, she earned a degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University in December 2004.

At the time, one of her dream jobs was to work as a chemical engineer for Budweiser. (“Making beer is a chemical process that involves fermentation,” Zietlow-­Miller explains. “Chemical engineers are hired as process engineers to oversee the fermentation and bottling processes.”) Alas, the King of Beers was not in her future. Instead, Exelon came calling, and in January 2005, she began a career in the nuclear industry as a systems engineer at Quad Cities, located in northwestern Illinois. She’s been at the two-­unit boiling water reactor facility ever since, but in a variety of roles.

Zietlow-­Miller recently spoke about her career and outage management strategies and challenges with Nuclear News staff writer Michael McQueen.

Palo Verde gets $20 million to make hydrogen while the sun shines

October 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
APS’s Palo Verde plant

Arizona Public Service is the latest nuclear utility with confirmed plans to install hydrogen production capacity, an investment decision that is based on analysis conducted under the Department of Energy’s H2@Scale program and backed by a $20 million DOE award.

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.

Keep nuclear generation at current levels, says Pennsylvania climate plan

September 29, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The 2021 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan recommends 18 “strategies” for realizing Gov. Tom Wolf’s goal of an 80 percent reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions (from 2005 levels) by 2050. Two of the strategies are for the electricity-generation sector: (1) maintain operation at Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants through at least 2050, and (2) achieve a 100 percent carbon-free grid by 2050.

In addition to focusing on electric power generation, the plan includes strategies for other major carbon-emitting sectors in the fossil fuel–heavy state, including transportation, industry, agriculture, and residential and commercial buildings. For each strategy, emission reductions, costs, and benefits in jobs and economic growth are quantified and health and social benefits analyzed.

Three Studies in Site Remediation

September 21, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsJeremy Kartchner

For any nuclear power plant that has been permanently shut down, site restoration is the ultimate decommissioning goal when contracting with a utility to demolish a facility. The task, however, is not as simple as mobilizing heavy equipment and waving a wrecking ball or planting explosives to implode the facility, then loading up the debris and sending it to a landfill.

There is a real science and engineering approach necessary to safely restore the land to its original state. That has been the goal for EnergySolutions over the past decade as the company works to safely decommission shuttered nuclear power plants—packaging, transporting, and disposing of the waste, and restoring the sites for whatever reuse the owners and host communities see fit.

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.

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.