Exelon says vote to save Byron plant must come Monday

Local News

BYRON, Ill. (WTVO) — Exelon says it has ordered fuel to keep the Byron nuclear plant running past the September 13th shutdown deadline if the Illinois Senate passes a clean energy bill on Monday, which includes a nearly $700 million bailout for the company.

On Thursday night, the Illinois House passed an amended version of the clean energy bill, which now returns to the Senate for approval. Gov. JB Pritzker has indicated his willingness to sign the amended bill, if it passes.

The bill includes $694 million in funding for Exelon to keep its Byron and Dresden plants operational. Exelon had decided to close the nuclear plants as the energy market had titled in favor of cheaper, coal-based options. But, the new Illinois plan would require the state eliminate carbon emissions by 2050.

Approval came Thursday night on an 82-33 vote after a compromise allowing to coal-fired plants to remain open until 2045 but cut their emissions by nearly half in the next 14 years. 

Exelon issued a statement prior to Thursday night’s vote, and said “we have gone to extraordinary lengths and considerable cost to establish off-ramps that will allow us to reverse the retirement of Byron up until the last moment. That includes ordering fuel for the plant that can be redirected to another of our nuclear units if legislation fails, and prepositioning hundreds of outside contractors to either refuel or defuel the plant. As we have said before, Monday, September 13, is the day we will need to either commence work on refueling or begin the process of permanently defueling the plant and removing it from service. There is no option for extending that deadline past Monday.”

The Senate says it will vote on the new proposal on Monday, a move that Exelon said would be sufficient to keep the Byron reactor in service.

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