Plant, city leaders respond to Exelon threat to close Byron facility

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Since the mid 1980’s, Byron’s nuclear generating station has produced power for more than two million homes, but that could change in the next few years if operator Exelon follows through on it’s threat to shutter the facility. A move that would devastate the municipality.

“It’s pretty much essential.” Byron Mayor John Rickard said.

Byron is a small city, home to about 3,800 residents, with a downtown made up of a few main streets.  It’s also the home to the Exelon Nuclear Generating Station that provides power to over 2 million homes and businesses.  The facility also draws property taxes and Byron agencies see the financial benefits, which is good for the city, but makes the plant a financial weak link.

“It brings substantial tax money to the school, the fire department, the public library, and a number of folks who work there, who live here and spend their money here.” said Rickard.

Exelon filed a motion with the Securities and Exchange Commission to lower the property taxes paid to the different entities because, right now, the site costs the company more than it brings in, which in the long run isn’t sustainable for the corporation.

“For years operating plants below value or they weren’t making money.  There’s other plants that were making money, but there’s a certain time that’s going to be hard to continue doing.” Exelon Communication Manager Paul Dempsey said.  “So if plants aren’t making money because they’re not fairly compensated for via different policies then the company is going to look at it and see what they need to do.”

As of right now, Exelon has committed to keeping its doors open and operating for 3 more years.  But since it’s provides nuclear energy, which is considered a clean energy source, the company wants taxing bodies to give it the same benefits other energy sources are allotted.

“There is no burning in the fission process inside of our reactors so it is carbon free and able to generate power for more than two million homes without putting carbon into the atmosphere. Even environmentalists say this is a very important thing.” Dempsey said.

Rickard added, “ComEd feels like their nuclear plant is at an economic disadvantage because it does not get incentives like solar or wind energy does. Not subsidized.”

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