Exelon sets Byron deactivation date as Illinois bill stalls

22 June 2021

Exelon has notified transmission organisation PJM Interconnection of its plan to deactivate the two Byron reactors after Illinois lawmakers adjourned without reaching an agreement on clean energy legislation that would have enabled the plants to continue operating. The bill could still pass later this summer.

Byron (Image: Exelon)

Exelon announced in 2019 that it would retire the two-unit Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants this year if the state did not pass policy reforms to support their continued operation, and earlier this year reiterated that it would need a decision from lawmakers by the end of the legislative session on 31 May. The session was extended and it was reported that a verbal agreement on the nuclear energy portion of the energy bill had been reached, but legislators failed to pass the bill when they returned to vote on 15 June.

Senator Bill Cunningham, cited in Capitol News Illinois, said the bill stalled over disagreements over decarbonisation measures aimed at taking coal and gas plants offline. Senate President Don Harmon said "points of contention" between labour and environmental activists, but added he was "hopeful" that lawmakers would be able to return to address the legislation later this summer.

"We had an agreement on the nuclear part that would allow the nuclear power plants to stay open because they are a carbon-free source of energy, and also would save thousands of good-paying jobs in our communities," Rezin said on 15 June, adding: "There was simply not enough support for the governor's bill and he was not willing to negotiate with the unions."

Exelon, in a statement shared by Rezin, said: "We are disappointed that a comprehensive climate and energy bill that would preserve Illinois' largest source of clean energy failed to pass, paradoxically putting at risk the clean air and jobs goals that all policymakers rightfully agree are critical to our state. Absent quick passage of legislation, Exelon has no choice but to proceed with retiring Byron in September and Dresden in November."

Exelon filed a deactivation notice for Dresden in January last year and on 16 June filed a deactivation notice for Byron, in line with a requirement to provide PJM with at least 90 days' notice of its intention to deactivate a plant. Byron and Dresden recently failed to clear the PJM Interconnection capacity auction. The company has requested to deactivate Byron unit 1 on 14 September and unit 2 on 16 September, with the Dresden units scheduled for deactivation in November.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News