Byron nuclear plant saved as Senate OKs clean energy plan

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Senate has approved a clean energy deal which includes a subsidy for Exelon to keep the Byron nuclear plant in operation, after the House passed it last week.

The plan gives Exelon $694 million to keep the Byron and Dresden plants operational. Exelon had previously begun drawing down the Byron plant with an anticipated retirement date of Monday, September 13th, and had warned that once the nuclear fuel had been depleted, it could not be refueled after that date.

Exelon said Monday that with the passage of the bill, it was preparing to refuel both plants.

“We commend the Governor, the General Assembly, our partners at IBEW Local 15 and the coalition of labor leaders and members who worked so hard to pass this roadmap for rebuilding our economy and addressing the climate crisis by investing in clean energy in a way that ensures that jobs and environmental benefits are shared equitably,” said Christopher Crane, president and CEO of Exelon.

“This new policy offers a better future for the employees who have run these plants at world-class levels, the plant communities that we are privileged to serve and all Illinoisans eager to build a clean-energy economy that works for everyone,” Crane continued.

The Byron plant has been in operation since 1985. With the passage of the clean energy plan, it will remain operational until 2028.

The clean energy plan expects to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050, and also raises residential electric rates by 3%, closes all private coal-fired power plants by 2035, and uses existing funds to create a $4,000 rebate for consumers who purchase an electric vehicle, among other provisions.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker responded to the bill’s passage, saying, “SB 2408 puts the state on a path toward 100% clean energy and invests in training a diverse workforce for the jobs of the future. Illinois will become the best state in the nation to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle, and equity will be prioritized in every new program created. SB2408 puts consumers and climate at the forefront, prioritizing meaningful ethics and transparency reforms, and institutes key ratepayer and residential customer protections.”

“Thousands of people across the state rely on power plants for their livelihoods, including many employees at the Byron nuclear plant on Rockford’s back doorstep,” said Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). “As we make the transition to green energy, we have to make sure these Illinoisans aren’t left in the dark. I’m proud to support an energy transition plan that prioritizes economic stability for our working families in the long term, protecting existing jobs while training our labor force to seize the opportunities of the future of energy.”

Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) voted against the bill’s passage, saying Monday, “While I wish I could have supported this bill to save the Byron Nuclear Plant, the fact is this energy package does more harm to the people of this state than it does to protect them. The Governor and his allies have created a no-win situation with this energy proposal, holding Byron and other nuclear facilities hostage. Under this proposal, the only way Byron was to be allowed to remain open was if lawmakers supported the largest utility rate increase in Illinois history and awarded massive subsidies to wind and solar energy companies. Yet, even then, Byron will only remain open until 2028.”

Senate Democrats pushed back on the idea that the state will have to import energy, saying that the wind and solar construction will offset any losses from coal years from now.

The bill heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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