BYRON, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Senate made a major breakthrough in the push to pass Gov. JB Pritzker’s climate change agenda early Wednesday, but Byron Generating Station’s parent company, Exelon, says the nuclear reactor is shutting down September 13th if no deal is reached.
Clean energy negotiations had stalled in the Senate for three months, but around 1 a.m., the Senate president mustered enough votes to approve a clean energy deal that would require all coal and natural gas-fired power plants to close by 2045.
According to NPR, Exelon says it will have no choice but to prematurely retire the Byron plant on September 13th, as it has begun a process to draw down the nuclear fuel that powers the the reactor.
Exelon said “We have established off-ramps that will allow us to reverse that decision if lawmakers pass legislation with enough time for us to safely refuel the plants. To be clear, Byron will run out of fuel and will permanently shut down on September 13 unless legislation is enacted. We have been clear that we cannot refuel Byron on September 13 or Dresden in November, absent policy changes.”
The proposal includes $694 million in taxpayer funds for Exelon to prop up its carbon-free nuclear power plants in Byron, Dresden, and Braidwood.
The company has intended to close the Byron plant for some time. In February of 2019, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Exelon said the plant is “showing increased signs of economic distress, which could lead to an early retirement, in a market that does not currently compensate them for their unique contribution to grid resiliency and their ability to produce large amounts of energy without carbon and air pollution.”
Exelon cited revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and energy rules that allow fossil fuel plants to make cheaper bids at energy auction.