BYRON (WIFR) — Employment in Northern Illinois has received a temporary boost as Byron Generating Station’s refueling outage begins today.
More than 1,700 additional workers will join the 850 permanent Byron Station employees in helping Exelon complete scheduled maintenance and upgrades on the facility.
Byron Station will spend $13 million in contracted labor – non-Exelon employees – for the outage and will also pump nearly $7 million into the bottom lines of local vendors.
Most local motels, restaurants and shops from Rockford to Rochelle and many places in between see an increase in customers during Byron Station outages.
“Many of our businesses see increased sales during the refueling outages at the nuclear facility,” said Deanna Mershon, executive director of the Byron Area Chamber of Commerce. “The extra workers that come through our area buy gas, food and other goods. It can help the bottom line of a business even if for just a few weeks or months.”
Workers at Byron Station will refuel the Unit 2 reactor, perform more than 12,000 inspections and maintenance activities, and refurbish the Unit 2 cooling tower’s interior structure. Many of the activities performed during the outage cannot be done while the unit is operating.
“This is our second consecutive outage with a larger than normal schedule of work,” said Byron Station Site Vice President Russ Kearney. “The cooling tower work, along with our other planned maintenance activities, demands a larger supplemental workforce than usual. It means many temporary jobs and an uptick in local business receipts.”
Residents should be aware of the increased traffic in towns near the plant. While the unit is down, residents should be aware that one of the cooling towers will not produce any water vapor cloud. This is normal during when a unit is taken offline.
Byron’s Unit 1 will continue to supply clean electricity to Exelon customers during the Unit 2 outage. With both units at full power, the site produces almost 2,300 megawatts, enough electricity for 2.3 million homes.
Byron Generating Station is in Ogle County, Ill., about 25 miles southwest of Rockford.