Exelon invests in long-term nuclear power plant operation

4 October 2021

Byron NPP (Photo credit: Exelon)US Exelon announced that, after the Illinois General Assembly has passed sweeping clean energy legislation preserving its NPPs, the company “is moving quickly to fill 650 vacant positions across the state and jumpstart more than $300 million in capital projects over the next five years at its Illinois nuclear stations to continue its legacy of safety and reliability”. 

Dave Rhoades, Exelon Generation’s chief nuclear officer said:  “With this landmark legislation in place, we are moving quickly to restaff and refuel all of our nuclear plants for 24/7 operation.” He added: “These plants are not only important for the clean energy they produce, but they are massive economic engines for their local communities, contributing more than $1.6 billion to Illinois GDP each year.” 

The Byron NPP began refuelling unit 1 after Governoor JB Pritzker signed the clean energy legislation. While the nuclear support provision represents less than 20% of the cost of the overall legislation in the coming years, it has an outsized impact on the state’s climate and economic goals, Exelon noted. Saving the plants preserves two-thirds of the state’s clean energy, avoids a 70% rise in emissions, protects 28,000 direct and indirect jobs, and prevents a $480 million increase in annual energy prices for consumers.

Byron Station now plans to invest more than $140 million into the plant in the next five years on projects overhauling a main generator, replacing large transformers, upgrading a fibre optic control system and replacing various pumps, motors and piping in the plant. Most of the projects will occur during refuelling outages starting next year and will include more than 1500 electricians, pipe fitters, welders, carpenters and other tradespeople coming to Byron from across Illinois to perform the work.

The refuelling outage of the Dresden 2 will occur in November, and the station has nearly $170 million in capital projects planned over the next five years, including upgrades to six feedwater heat exchange vessels, significant refurbishment of a main generator, electrical component overhauls, replacement of closed cooling piping and revamping nuclear instrumentation circuit components. As with Byron, the work on these projects will be performed during refuelling outages by union personnel.  

Byron and Dresden will also soon begin the first of multiple new training classes for dozens of licensed operators who will become the next generation of employees operating the plants and helping to keep our state’s air clean.

Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet produces more than 50% of the state’s electricity and nearly 90% of its carbon-free power. The fleet includes Braidwood Generating Station in Will County, Byron Generating Station in Ogle County, Clinton Power Station in DeWitt County, Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County, LaSalle County Generating Station and Quad Cities Generating Station in Rock Island County.

Photo: Exelon is to invest £140M in upgrades at Byron NPP over the next five years (Photo credit: Exelon)

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