Exelon files to close Byron Nuclear Plant

BYRON — Exelon has taken a step toward closing the Byron Nuclear plant as an energy deal has yet to be reached on the state level.

The company has filed intentions to close the Byron plant with PJM, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states.

Exelon would shutter one tower on Sept. 14 and the other on Sept. 16, according to PJM’s deactivation list.

In August, Exelon announced its plans to close both the Byron plant in September 2021 and Dresden the following November. The company said it faces revenue shortfalls of hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and market rules that allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean resources.

Lawmakers have been negotiating an energy bill that would include $700 million in subsidies to keep the plants open, but the deal has yet to be inked and likely won’t be readdressed until later this summer.

The legislature’s regular session ended in May without passing the energy bill, and legislators came back to Springfield on Tuesday for a special 2-day session, but the Senate adjourned without action.

“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,” Exelon said in a statement. “Absent quick passage of legislation, Exelon has no choice but to proceed with retiring Byron in September and Dresden in November, as previously announced.”

The Byron plant has 717 regular employees, providing $97.5 million in payroll, and it was licensed to operate for another 20 years. Dresden has 804 employees and provides $104 million in local payroll.

According to preliminary 2020 data, nuclear power accounted for 57% of the state’s energy and 85% of the state’s carbon-free energy generation. Byron and Dresden provide 30% of the state’s carbon-free energy to 4 million homes.

The Byron plant provided $34 million in local tax revenue last year, with $19.1 million going to the Byron Community School District 226. That’s 74% of the district’s revenue.

The Byron Station Response Committee was established last year to help inform the public and fight the closures, and the group established saveilnuclearpower.com as a hub for people to get involved and spread awareness.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.