Nuclear Power

31 Jul 2021

Exelon Files Decommissioning Plans for Lllinois Plants

31 Jul 2021  by World Nuclear News   
Exelon Generation yesterday announced the filing of Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activity Reports (PSDARs) for its Byron and Dresden plants, due to shut later this year, with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). PSDARs set out long-term site restoration plans for the stations after they shut down, and their filing is one of the final regulatory steps before plant closure.

Artwork by Nathan Holbrook of Tinley Park Memorial Elementary School, one of the winning entries in entries in Nuclear Powers Illinois' student art competition "Why Illinois Needs Nuclear", which was held earlier this year (Image: Nuclear Powers Illinois)
Exelon announced in 2019 that it would retire the two-unit Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants, which it says face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to low energy prices and market policies that give fossil fuel plants an unfair competitive advantage, unless a legislative solution can be reached. The same market inequities will force the company to close its Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear facilities in the next few years, it added.

Illinois policymakers are continue working on legislation that would preserve the units, but with no signs of a breakthrough Exelon CNO Dave Rhoades said the company has no choice but to take the final steps in preparation for the plants' closure. Byron is scheduled to shut down in September and Dresden in November.

"We will never stop fighting for policies to preserve Illinois' nuclear fleet, knowing that the minute these plants close our customers will experience dirtier air and higher energy costs. But with time running out, we must plan for the future and do everything we can to prepare our employees and the communities they serve for what lies ahead," he said.

The company said it is now preparing to issue job reduction notifications to employees impacted by the plant shutdowns: staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees as of August 2020, to just 30-40 employees over the next 10 years. Exelon's Chicago-area plants support 28,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute USD3.5 billion annually to the state of Illinois’ economy, the company said.

With the filing of the PDSARs completed, Exelon says it has now completed 82% of the tasks on its "decommissioning checklist" for the plants.

"PJM, the regional grid operator, has confirmed that both plants can retire without putting overall grid reliability at risk. However, the massive loss of in-state clean generation means Illinois will have to rely more on fossil energy located in environmental justice communities and in surrounding states to meet the needs of Illinois homes and businesses. Increased production from fossil plants will increase carbon and other harmful emissions and force Illinois consumers to support jobs in other states through their energy bills," the company said.

Byron is home to two pressurised water reactors: unit 1 began commercial operation in 1985 and unit 2 in 1987, and the units are currently licensed by the NRC to operate until 2044 and 2046 respectively. Dresden's two boiling water reactors began commercial operation in 1970 (Dresden 2) and 1971 (Dresden 3). Their respective operating licences expire in 2029 and 2031.


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