BYRON – Exelon Generation announced Thursday morning it will ‘retire’ the Byron Nuclear Plant in September 2021, closing the plant. It’s now one of two plants the company plans to retire in 2021, including the Dresden plant located in Morris that November.
“Although we know in our heads that shutting down the uneconomic Illinois plants is necessary to preserve even more jobs elsewhere, our hearts ache today for the thousands of talented women and men that have served Illinois families for more than a generation and will lose their jobs because of poorly conceived energy policies,” said Christopher Crane, president and CEO of Exelon in a release Thursday morning. “But we are only about a year away from shutdown and we need to give our people, the host communities, and regulators time to prepare.”
The two plants combined were licensed to operated for another three decades combined.
Between the two, both plants employee over 1,500 full time workers and support up to 2,000 supplemental workers from local union halls. The plants also drop over $63 million dollars in taxes to support local schools, fire, police and other services.
“We recognize this comes as many of our communities are still recovering from the economic and public health impacts of the pandemic, and we will continue our dialogue with policymakers on ways to prevent these closures,” Crane said. “To that end, we have opened our books to policymakers and will continue to do so for any lawmaker who wishes to judge the plants’ profitability.”
Exelon Generation said low energy prices that could lead to a potential loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” is a main factor behind the closures.
“We agree with Governor Pritzker that policy reform is urgently needed to address the climate crisis and advance Illinois’ clean energy economy, and we support the objectives of the Governor’s recent energy principles,” added Crane. “That’s separate from today’s announcement to retire these two zero-carbon nuclear plants, which was not a decision made lightly and is one that has been in the works for some time.”
Both LaSalle and Braidwood nuclear plants were mentioned in the release and labeled at ‘high risk’ for premature closures. Combined, the two plants employee an additional 1,500 full time jobs.
If all four nuclear plants prematurely retire, Illinois will drop to only 20 percent of emissions consistent targets set forth in the Paris climate agreement. In January 2019, Illinois was on progress for 85 percent of it’s goal by 2025.
The company is expected to make an official shutdown notification with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within the next month.