Byron Nuclear Plant celebrates 45 years

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BYRON, Ill. (WIFR)- - Byron generating station celebrates its 45th anniversary and a commitment to clean energy.

Construction of the Byron Generating Station began April 1st, 1975. Today, the nuclear plant employs more than 700 people who contribute to the city's economy.

"They shop, they go out to eat, they go bowling, they go to grocery stores, they get gas at the gas stations,” said Sarah Downs with the Byron Chamber of Commerce.

Exelon Corporation says the station produces nearly 2,500 megawatts of carbon-free electricity each day, and that powers more than 2.3 million homes and businesses. Plant leaders say they hope to be around for many years to come.

"These nuclear plants should continue to operate,” said Mark Kanavos, the site manager. “They generate thousands of great paying jobs, they are an economic impact to the communities we serve, and it's the path to 100 percent clean renewable.”

"Natural gas is creating a lot of jobs and a lot of cheaper energy, but it is putting carbon in the atmosphere,” said Paul Dempsey, who works at the plant. “The nuclear plant is not, because of the fission process. All that comes out of our stacks is water vapor from the Rock River."

Despite any rumors, plant leaders say, as of now, they don't see the plant closing anytime soon.

"It would be a lot of tax money that we would have to figure out where else it would come from,” said John Rickard, Byron Mayor. “As of now, we don't have that answer. We hope it doesn't close and continues to be part of the community for decades to come."