Two Illinois nuclear power plants are on the chopping block after state leaders decided not to approve a plan to provide funding for them.
Exelon said Thursday it needed the General Assembly to pass the Next Generation Energy Plan in order to keep the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities open. They’ve been losing hundreds of millions of dollars since 2009. For now, the company says its Byron plant won’t be affected. But, it could in the near future.
“The plant creates a lot of jobs here,” said Paul Dempsey, Communications Manager at the Byron station. “More than 800.”
Those jobs could be in jeopardy, which is why Dempsey is still urging lawmakers to pass the Next Generation Energy Plan. he says if the plant eventually has to make cuts, it will have a major impact.
“[The plant generates] more than a $1 billion a year in economic activity. So, it’s going to be very hard to replace that.”
Dempsey says the ripple effect will reach the town.
“More than $30 million a year we pay in property taxes. That goes to schools here, it goes to the forest preserves… fire protection districts.”
“It’s upsetting,” said retired plant worker Skip Werntz. “It definitely will affect the economy around here.”
Dempsey also says if the area must rely less on nuclear power, it will have to compensate with other sources of renewable energy.
“We’re talking about thousands of thousands of windmills or just acreage upon acreage of solar panels, which is not feasible.”