While temperatures plunged across the U.S. last week, Exelon Generation’s six Illinois nuclear plants operated around the clock, producing enough power to keep 11 million homes and businesses warm. All six nuclear facilities ran at nearly 100% output levels last week, providing schools, hospitals, businesses and residences the reliable, carbon-free electricity needed to keep heaters running during the cold snap.
“We are dedicated to delivering carbon-free, reliable energy for our customers when they need it most,” said Dave Rhoades, chief nuclear officer at Exelon Generation. “We’re grateful to our 4,500 Illinois full-time essential workers for accomplishing that goal while managing frigid temperatures and working safely during the pandemic. Our resiliency and commitment to operational excellence ensures reliability, especially during these extreme conditions.”
Nuclear produces clean energy 24/7 and is the most reliable form of power generation, especially during extremely cold stretches, when demand for electricity is high in Illinois. Despite the weather, the state’s nuclear plants have continuously sent baseload electricity to the grid, keeping families warm and protected from arctic temperatures and essential businesses and services operating across the region.
Exelon Generation’s Illinois nuclear fleet has proven its reliability year after year during Midwest deep freezes. The six Illinois nuclear plants recorded a near-perfect reliability rate last winter, running nearly 99% of their planned operating time, one of many indicators that industry experts use to rate efficiency and performance. Together, the plants generate more than half of Illinois’ electricity and nearly 90% of its carbon-free energy.
Winter resiliency and reliability requires yearlong planning and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and supplemental equipment is ready for inclement weather. Last fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation facilities for subzero temperatures, icy conditions and heavy snowfall. These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and winter readiness maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.
Illinois’ nuclear plants recorded a near-perfect reliability rate last summer as well. During June, July and August 2020, which was Illinois’ hottest summer on record, the plants operated 98.9% of the time. Whether it’s the hottest summer or coldest winter temperatures, Exelon Generation’s nuclear fleet delivers carbon-free, baseload power critical for meeting the electricity demands of Illinois homes and businesses.