KANKAKEE, IL – Illinois Senator Patrick Joyce has expressed his support for Senate Bill 76, an initiative aimed at lifting the moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants in the state. If passed, it could pave the way for new job opportunities and sustainable energy options for the state of Illinois.
Currently, there is a nuclear moratorium in place that prohibits any construction of new nuclear facilities, but Senate Bill 76 aims to appeal this moratorium. The bill has bipartisan support, and it recently passed the Senate with a 39-13 vote.
Senator Joyce emphasized that it is crucial to ensure Illinois remains at the forefront of sustainable energy production, and that lifting the moratorium will enable job creation and ensure more sustainable energy sources for the state. Senator Sue Rezin, who introduced the bill, also expressed her support, saying that it is a bipartisan effort to ensure Illinois can compete with other states in relieving energy grid reliability and resiliency pressures.
The move comes as Constellation, the largest producer of carbon-free energy in the US, announced an $800 million investment in new equipment to increase the output of its Braidwood and Byron Generating Stations in Illinois by approximately 135 megawatts. The additional always-on, carbon-free power generated will result in the equivalent of removing 171,000 gas-powered vehicles from the road per year, or the equivalent of adding 216 intermittent wind turbines to the grid.
The project is expected to create work for thousands of skilled union workers during construction while expanding economic activity for surrounding businesses in the plant communities. The additional jobs come on top of the 1,200 permanent workers at the two plants.
“These investments in our world-class nuclear fleet will allow us to generate more zero-carbon energy with the same amount of fuel and land, and that’s a win for the economy, the environment, and Illinois families and businesses who rely on our clean energy,” said Joe Dominguez, President and CEO of Constellation.
The support for nuclear in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has made extending the lives of US nuclear assets to 80 years more likely, assuming continued support.
It has caused Constellation to examine nuclear uprate opportunities that were cancelled a decade ago due to market forces. The 45Y tax credit for the production of new carbon-free electricity helps make these investments economic.
The Illinois uprates come on the heels of Constellation’s announcement of significant progress at its clean hydrogen project at Nine Mile Point Generating Station in upstate New York, and the start of work on operating license renewals at the Clinton and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois.
Overall, the support for Senate Bill 76 and the investment in new equipment from Constellation show the state’s commitment to sustainable energy production and creating job opportunities.