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Byron Nuclear Plant scheduled to shut down in Sept., Exelon says

As part of the decommissioning process, Exelon Generation has up to 60 years to restore Byron and Dresden.
Staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees when the plant retirements were...
Staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees when the plant retirements were announced last August, to just 30-40 employees over the next 10 years.(WIFR)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:44 AM CDT
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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR) - Byron and Dresden Nuclear Plants will be shut down, according to Exelon on Wednesday.

Exelon Generation, owner and operator of the Byron and Dresden nuclear energy facilities, will file post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission later Wednesday.

The plans will detail long-term site restoration plans for both stations after they shut down this fall. Exelon Generation is now preparing to issue job reduction notifications to employees impacted by the plant shutdowns. Staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees when the plant retirements were announced last August, to just 30-40 employees over the next 10 years, according to Exelon.

“The filings are among the final steps in retiring the plants, which face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to low energy prices and market policies that give fossil fuel plants an unfair competitive advantage. Absent a legislative solution, these same market inequities will force the company to close its Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear facilities sometime in the next few years,” Exelon said in a statement.

As part of the decommissioning process, Exelon Generation has up to 60 years to restore Byron and Dresden, which includes transporting the stations’ used fuel to long-term storage, decontaminating and removing plant components and razing the remaining buildings.

“With no signs of a breakthrough on clean energy legislation in Springfield, we have no choice but to take these final steps in preparation for shutting down the plants,” said Exelon Generation Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Rhoades. “We will never stop fighting for policies to preserve Illinois’ nuclear fleet, knowing that the minute these plants close our customers will experience dirtier air and higher energy costs. But with time running out, we must plan for the future and do everything we can to prepare our employees and the communities they serve for what lies ahead,” Exelon said.

Click here for a list of all the shutdown activities completed to date.

“The Chicago-area plants support 28,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $3.5 billion annually to Illinois’ economy. Closing the two plants will have the immediate environmental impact equivalent to putting 4.4 million additional cars on the road, emitting carbon and other harmful sources of air pollution,” Exelon said.

PJM, the regional grid operator, has confirmed that both plants can retire without putting overall grid reliability at risk.

“However, the massive loss of in-state clean generation means Illinois will have to rely more on fossil energy located in environmental justice communities and in surrounding states to meet the needs of Illinois homes and businesses. Increased production from fossil plants will increase carbon and other harmful emissions and force Illinois consumers to support jobs in other states through their energy bills,” Exelon said.

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