Workers begin Byron nuclear plant outage

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Updated: 10/9/2017

UPDATE: BYRON, Ill. (WIFR)-- The maintenance is doing more than updating the Byron Nuclear Plant. It's helping boost the local economy.

"We're in a small, very small, community," explained Saro Costa, Owner, costa's Pizzeria and Ristorante. "The nuclear plant is a very big part of the success of the business."

Costa says for almost three decades he has happily watched as thousands of people come to town every 18 months to do maintenance at the Byron Nuclear Plant.

"And of course everybody's looking forward to all these people coming to town," explained Costa.

It's one of the most economic lifts this small community experiences.

"The tax dollars it brings into the community is unbelievable," said Costa. "We have a beautiful forest preserve, a great golf course, the school district is top notch. Museum district, it provides quite a bit."

Byron businesses aren't the only ones who see a boost when the nuclear plant takes a station offline. Some Rockford hotels also see a rise in their bottom line.

"Hardly any vacancy," said Rachel Mason, Assistant Manager, Howard Johnson Hotel. "We have about 25 to 20 percent vacancy when they are here, they fill up our hotels from anywhere from two weeks to six weeks."

Many in Byron say welcoming visitors to their city is more than just about a bump in business.

"The people they bring into town are also great people," explained Sarah Downs, Executive Director, Byron Chamber of Commerce. "We've gotten to experience this twice this year, and I feel our businesses are really enjoying the benefits of it as well."

Costa says he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

"I love this community and I think we're all fortunate the nuclear plant is here, and hopefully it stays here for a long time," explained Costa.

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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR) – More than 2,500 maintenance workers will make the commute each day to Byron to prepare the nuclear plant for a major change.

Workers this week begin the second scheduled outage of the year at the Byron’s Station Unit Two. During the maintenance, workers will replace about one-third of the nuclear reactor’s fuel and do upgrades to some of the plants equipment. Project Manager Steve Nosko says the annual maintenance is preparing the transformers to be replaced in two years.

“These transformers are coming up to their end of life, and for plant reliability, we want to replace them so we don’t have an concerns with plant operation,” says Project Manager, Steve Nosko.

In the spring of 2019, crews will be replacing both transformers with new ones from the Hyundai Corporation. The plant expects those new transformers will last for another 30 years.