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.

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.

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.

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.)

NYISO issues 2021 power trends report

May 6, 2021, 10:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The above figure provides NYISO's projected mix of resource capacity expected to be available for the 2021 Summer Capability Period. The figure below shows the vast difference in 2020 between clean energy provided to upstate New York and to downstate New York. With the recent closure of Indian Point-3, the difference will widen for downstate New York in 2021.

NYISO released its 2021 power trends report for the state of New York. As noted by many in the energy community prior to the closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant's Unit 2 and Unit 3 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, the projected mix of resource capacity expected for downstate New York's energy generation will be heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

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.”

Indian Point closes today, ending some 60 years of clean power generation

April 30, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Indian Point-3’s turbine hall and generator. Photo: Entergy

The disturbingly long list of U.S. nuclear plants prematurely closed in recent years will get even longer tonight when the last reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center, Unit 3, powers down for the final time. The shutdown, scheduled for 11 p.m. local time, will mark the end of nearly 60 years of zero-carbon electricity generation at the Buchanan, N.Y., facility.

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?

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 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.

Despite current policy and economic challenges, nuclear’s future remains bright

October 1, 2020, 10:44AMNuclear NewsBryan Hanson
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.

Illinois plants set outage performance marks

May 11, 2020, 3:19PMNuclear News

Four of six Illinois nuclear power plants—Braidwood, Byron, LaSalle, and Quad Cities—set operational records while conducting spring refueling outages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performance records include the shortest refueling outage (18 days) at LaSalle; the shortest refueling outage at Quad Cities (16 days), as well as the completion of the site’s longest continuous run (722 days); and the completion at both Braidwood and Byron of their sixth consecutive continuous cycle of operations, also known as a “breaker-to-breaker” run, according to a May 7 press release from Exelon Generation. Exelon’s average outage duration in Illinois this spring was 17 days, a full two weeks shorter than the national average, the release stated.