Community effort to save Byron nuclear plant gaining traction

Local News

BYRON, Ill. (WTVO) — The Exelon Nuclear Plant in Byron currently employs more than 2,300 people, but the facility is on the chopping block.

There are renewed efforts to save the power plant as state lawmakers mull over the Climate Union Jobs Act.

A community group rallying to save the plant is hopeful residents will make their voices heard as the act moves forward.

“This makes a huge difference in what Byron can be as a community,” said Byron Mayor John Rickard.

Illinois lawmakers are scheduled to meet Thursday to continue discussing the Climate Union Jobs Act. Local advocates have been urging residents to show their support for the legislation.

“The best thing they can do is sign a witness slip, which you can do electronically,” said Mayor Rickard. “If somebody has the time and desire, call your legislator. That would help too.”

“It will make a difference. And the more signatures and larger reach as possible, the more of a difference it’ll make.”

Last year, Exelon announced plans to close the plan in September of 2021. Shortly after, dozens of community members joined together to lobby for it to stay open. Mayor Rickard thinks the effort is paying off.

“Rumor has it the conversations are going well. I think momentum is shifting in our favor. Nothing is sure yet, but it’s feeling good,” he said.

A recent study estimated more than 15% of Ogle County’s GDP is tied to the facility. Rickard says keeping it in operation is critical for the city.

“Everybody can travel down to Springfield and fill the hallways. Or the more efficient way is the witness slip, and committees do look at that. It gives them a sense of level of support from around the state, and how broad that support is,” the mayor added.

Advocates say they’re also looking into other ways to plead their case to lawmakers, such as letter-writing campaigns or phone banking.

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