Byron power plant in danger of shutting down

Exelon filed paperwork last week with grid operator PJM Interconnection to deactivate the plant’s two cooling towers
Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 9:36 AM CDT
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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR) - The Byron Nuclear Plant took one more step towards closure as paperwork was filed for a shutdown in less than three months.

In 2020, Exelon announced it planned to close its Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants because of a drop in revenue and energy costs. Then on June 16, Exelon filed papers with grid operator PJM Interconnection to deactivate one cooling tower on September 14 and the other September 16.

Last week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said the House and Senate could pass a new clean energy bill in the next few weeks, but only if the bill includes meaningful decarbonization measures and moves us toward a clean energy economy.

“When my girls were little we used to look over at the new plant and they would say it was the titanic because it looked like big smoke stacks,” said Laurie Haub.

Haub’s kids view the nuclear power plant in Byron as something special as identified by the steam and water vapor coming from the cooling towers. But those identifying markers could soon disappear.

“It’s going to be terrible. I don’t know how we are going to able to support all the people. we will. we’ll work together and support the families and help them as much as we can. I know there’s a lot of hard working people that work at those facilities and they need to keep those open so they can stay there,” said Haub.

Despite no bill at the moment, state lawmakers say they can pass an energy bill that will keep the plant open.

“We’ve continued to make good progress on this. over the course of the spring negotiations it was characterized that the nuclear piece was the one point of discrepancy,” said Representative Tom Demmer (R), 90th District.

“it would not only be devastating to Byron, but to the whole region Byron is a flagship and it’s been here a long time giving cheap clean energy to the area,” said Representative Dave Vella (D), 68th District.

In case the passing of a new bill doesn’t happen, Exelon must move forward with the shutdown. While the plant is in danger of retiring, Haub is optimistic something can get done before it’s too late.

“I stand very very positive and encourage the people I know who work there to just hang in there, keep working hard, have good faith,” said Haub.

The plant began construction in 1975 and the first tower was available for service in 1985, followed by the second cooling tower in 1987. Since then, the plant has helped more than 2.3 million homes and employs about 1,500 people.

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