Plant Operation

US Shutdowns / Exelon Files Plans To Decommission All Four Reactors At Byron And Dresden

By David Dalton
30 July 2021

 Exelon Files Plans To Decommission All Four Reactors At Byron And Dresden
The Byron nuclear power station, owned and operated by Exelon, is scheduled to close in September, followed by Dresden in November. Courtesy Wikipedia.
Exelon Generation has filed plans to decommission its Byron and Dresden nuclear power stations in Illinois, citing a lack of action from state lawmakers on clean energy legislation that would help save the facilities.

The nation’s largest operator of nuclear power plants said it has submitted its plans to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which will set in motion the final steps to retire the plants.

The company said: “The filings are among the final steps in retiring the plants, which face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to low energy prices and market policies that give fossil fuel plants an unfair competitive advantage.

“Without a legislative solution, these same market inequities will force the company to close its Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear facilities sometime in the next few years.”

The filings are known as the post-shutdown decommissioning activities report, or PSDAR. With the PSDARs complete, Exelon Generation is now preparing to issue job reduction notifications to employees impacted by the plant shutdowns. The company said staffing at the plants will fall from nearly 1,500 employees when the plant retirements were announced last August, to just 30-40 employees over the next 10 years.

Exelon said last year it was prepared to close four units at the Byron and Dresden facilities in autumn of 2021 without some form of state aid to provide compensation for their clean power.

Exelon said Byron would close in September 2021 followed by Dresden in November 2021. The two units at Dresden are licensed to operate for another decade and two units at Byron for another 20 years. 

Byron’s two units began commercial operation in 1985 and 1987, and Dresden’s in 1970 and 1971.

An Exelon spokesman said the company continues to hope that lawmakers will pass legislation that could keep the plants in operation, but said the company must begin the process of closing the plants.

“We understand that lawmakers continue to work on a legislative solution that would preserve Illinois’ nuclear fleet and we remain hopeful that clean energy legislation will pass in time for us to reverse these actions,” Paul Adams said in a statement.

“However, without any certainty that a bill will pass, we must proceed with taking the final steps toward shutting down the plants, and that includes making regulatory filings such as the one we filed today with the NRC.”

According to Exelon, despite being among the most efficient and reliable units in the nation’s nuclear fleet, Byron and Dresden face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and market rules that allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean resources in PJM Interconnection capacity auctions.

Exelon’s nuclear stations in Illinois are Byron (2 units), Braidwood (2), Dresden (2), Clinton (1), LaSalle (2) and Quad Cities (2).

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