$800 million investment announced for Byron, Braidwood nuclear power plants

Constellation says by 2029 it will have the added capacity to power the equivalent of 100,000 homes

Steam comes out of the Byron nuclear power plant's cooling towers. The plant, owned and operated by Constellation, is located between Oregon and Byron on North German Church Road.

The owner-operator of the nuclear generating stations at Byron and Braidwood said Tuesday that it will invest $800 million in new equipment to increase the combined output of the plants by about 135 megawatts.

Constellation, which made the announcement, said the increase is enough to power the equivalent of 100,000 average homes 24-7 for a year. Constellation is based in Baltimore. Its combined hydro, wind, solar and nuclear generators provide 10% of the nation’s clean energy.

It’s the carbon-footprint equivalent of removing 171,000 gas-powered vehicles from the road per year, or the equivalent of adding 216 intermittent wind turbines to the grid, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.

“These investments in our world class nuclear fleet will allow us to generate more zero-carbon energy with the same amount of fuel and land, and that’s a win for the economy, the environment and Illinois families and businesses who rely on our clean energy,” said Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation. “These projects will help create family-sustaining jobs and are a direct result of state and federal policies that recognize the incredible value of nuclear energy in addressing the climate crisis while keeping our grid secure and reliable.”

Constellation said the investment would create jobs for more than a thousand union workers. It already employs 1,200 at the two plants.

The company said the state Legislature’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in 2021 and the congressional Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 paved the way for this investment.

The main turbines at both facilities will be replaced with high-efficiency units, increasing capacity by 135 megawatts.

The work will be done in stages, scheduled to coincide with refueling outages. Some improvements in output will be seen by 2026, the project will be complete by 2029.

Elsewhere, Constellation announced progress on clean hydrogen project at its Nine Mile Point station in New York and work on renewing licenses for the Clinton and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois.

“It is gratifying to see new long-term projects at our nuclear facilities getting the green light. This is an exciting time for our industry as we continue our investment in the future of our plants,” said Dave Rhoades, chief nuclear officer, Constellation in a news release. “Our workers stand at the ready to welcome new employees for these projects as we continue building upon creative new efforts that provide additional clean energy to the communities we serve across the nation.”

The cooling towers of Exelon's Byron nuclear power plant can be seen in the distance from Mid Town Road, northeast of Mt. Morris.
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