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Leaders discuss economic fallout of potential Byron Nuclear Plant closure

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 8:58 PM CST
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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR) - The push to save the Byron Nuclear Plant is on, as local leaders and community members advocate for the reactors to keep operating.

“There is a lot of uncertainty which obviously leads to 727 plant employees that are a little uneasy around the holidays and they have every right to be,” Illinois State Representative in the 89th District Andrew Chesney said.

In August, the parent company that runs the Byron Nuclear Plant, Exelon, announced it would close the plant that was scheduled to run until 2046. The company says the plant faces a significant financial deficit.

“Both the stations between Byron and Dresden they face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Exelon Byron Station Communications Manager Paul Dempsey said.

The plant employs more than 720 people and generates a significant amount of tax revenue for the region. It contributes more than $30 million in tax dollars, which impacts much more than just the workers.

“Absent this income you’re still going to see a sizable amount of revenue that’s going to need to be generated to make up for the expected shortfall,” Chesney said. ” What would have to take place is an increase in property taxes.”

Chesney serves the Byron community he wants legislators in Springfield to work on certain incentives for nuclear power and he thinks a deal can get done.

“I believe we’re going to have an incentive program that will be in partisan legislation,” Chesney said.

Exelon leaves the door open for a reversal of its decision to close the plan but in order to make it happen changes need to take place.

“There’s a short window this spring where decisions could be reversed if the right policy comes along,” Dempsey said.

If the Byron plant does close in September of 2021 it would be the first plant Exelon has closed in Illinois.

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