Exelon Delays Closure Decision on 2 Illinois Nuclear Plants

Exelon Corp., which owns Illinois' 11 nuclear reactors, said Thursday that it is delaying for a year its decision about whether to close nuclear plants in the Quad Cities and Byron.

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) said it plans to run the Quad Cities nuclear power plant through May 2018 and the Byron nuclear plant through May 2019.
The utility said all of its nuclear plants in the PJM market cleared the transition capacity auction for the 2017-18 planning year, and that it will defer any decisions about future operations of Quad Cities and Byron, which the companies considers economically challenged. The auction results take effect in June 2017. The decision to defer the retirements comes after analysis of the present and future economics of the plants, taking into consideration the constructive market trends from the PJM capacity auction reforms.
All of the nuclear plants have also cleared the transition capacity auction for the 2016-17 planning year, but Quad Cities, Oyster Creek and Three Mile Island nuclear plants did not clear the capacity auction for the 2018-19 planning year.
“The new market reforms help to recognize the unique value of always-on nuclear power, while preserving the reliability of our electric system,” said Chris Crane, Exelon president and CEO. “However, these plants are long-lived assets with decades of useful life left, and today’s decision is only a short-term reprieve. Policy reforms are still needed to level the playing field for all forms of clean energy and best position the state of Illinois to meet EPA’s new carbon reduction rules.”
Exelon said it plans to bid all of its eligible nuclear plants into the 2019-20 PJM capacity auction held next year. PJM holds a capacity auction each year to ensure enough power generating resources are available to meet demand in the region that covers 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The Nuclear Energy Institue (NEI) said in a release that, although the decision is temporary, it is a good step for the state.

“Although only a temporary reprieve, Exelon’s decision is an enormous win for the state of Illinois. The Quad Cities and Byron nuclear stations employ almost 1,800 people directly, and are responsible for an additional 7,500 indirect jobs in the state," said Richard Myers, NEI's Vice President for Policy Development and Planning. "The two facilities produce $3.1 billion a year in total economic value for the state, according to an economic analysis conducted by NEI. In addition to this immense economic value, these nuclear energy facilities are essential if Illinois hopes to reduce its carbon emissions. Quad Cities and Byron produce 34.6 billion kilowatt-hours of carbon-free electricity every year—more than three times the state’s entire production from renewable energy."

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