Exelon announces early shutdown of four Illinois reactors: corporate


August 27, 2020

US utility Exelon Generation today announced that the Byron and Dresden two-unit nuclear power plants will be phased out in 2021 due to “market rules that favor polluting power plants over carbon-free nuclear power. “. He warned that other factories were at risk of shutting down prematurely due to these unfavorable market rules.

The Byron factory (Image: Exelon)

Exelon said the Byron plant – comprising two pressurized water reactors with a capacity of 1,164 MWe and 1,136 MWe – will be shut down in September next year, even though it is allowed to operate for an additional 20 years. The Dresden power station – two boiling water reactors with a capacity of 894 MWe and 879 MWe – has an operating license valid for another decade but will be closed in November 2021.

Exelon said it will now file a deactivation notice with regional transport organization PJM Interconnection and notify key stakeholders and regulatory agencies of the withdrawals. The utility said the notification is necessary to give PJM sufficient time to perform analysis confirming that the withdrawal from Byron and Dresden will not cause a shortage of generation capacity in northern Illinois during periods of peak in demand. In addition, the company will make formal shutdown notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 30 days. He said he would also end the capital investment projects required for the long-term operation of Dresden and Byron and reduce planned refueling shutdowns later this year at factories.

The company said that although Dresden and Byron are among the most efficient and reliable units in the United States nuclear fleet, they “face losses in revenue of several hundred million dollars due to the lower energy prices and market rules that allow fossil fuel power plants to underbid on own resources. in the PJM capacity auction. “He added that” the economic challenges for factories are further exacerbated “by a recent decision by the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that” undermines national energy programs clean and gives an additional competitive advantage to polluting energy sources in the auction. “Exelon said its two-unit factories in LaSalle and Braidwood – both located in Illinois – are also” at high risk of premature closure ”due to these market rules.

“While we know in our heads that shutting down unprofitable Illinois factories is necessary to preserve even more jobs elsewhere, our hearts are hurting today for the thousands of talented women and men who have served the world. Illinois families for more than a generation and will lose their jobs due to ill-conceived energy policies, ”said Christopher Crane, President and CEO of Exelon.“ But we’re only about a year away. closure and we need to give our employees, host communities and regulators time to prepare. “

Crane said Exelon will continue discussions with policymakers on ways to prevent the closure of the two factories. “To this end, we have opened our books to policy makers and will continue to do so for any legislator who wishes to judge the profitability of factories,” he said. “We agree with Governor Pritzker that political reform is urgently needed to address the climate crisis and advance Illinois’ clean energy economy, and we support the goals of the Governor’s recent Energy Principles. . This is separate from today’s announcement to remove these two zero-carbon nuclear plants, which was not a decision taken lightly and has been in the works for some time. “

The Byron and Dresden factories provide 30% of Illinois’ carbon-free energy and are critical to the state’s goal of achieving 100% clean energy, Exelon said. “While the state is currently making about 85% progress towards the 2025 target, if the four struggling nuclear power plants (Dresden, Byron, Braidwood and LaSalle) retire prematurely, Illinois will fall to just 20% of the economy. way to the goal. It said. “Emissions from the electricity sector in Illinois will increase by 70%.”

In a statement, Maria Korsnick, President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said, “Today’s unfortunate announcement comes after a long struggle to keep these nuclear power plants online. These closures will not only prevent Illinois from meeting its clean energy goals, but ultimately prevent our country from achieving a carbon-free future by 2050.

“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it is unacceptable to waste more clean energy at a time when we should be expanding our carbon-free energy sources, such as carbon-free nuclear power all the time. And we must also recognize that losing these nuclear power plants will result in the loss of thousands of highly skilled jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for communities in Illinois. “

Korsnick said it was in the interests of the United States to reverse the “troubling trend” of premature shutdowns of nuclear power plants. She said policies should value the carbon-free electricity provided by nuclear power. “This is why state legislatures and federal policymakers have come to a consensus that a clean energy future is not possible without all carbon-free technologies working together.”

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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