Exelon: Two Illinois Nuclear Plants May Close if Legislation Not Passed

Exelon says Clinton, Quad Cities could close in 2017 if legislation not passed

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) said it may close two of its Illinois nuclear power plants if legislation is not passed that would provide funding and support for nuclear and solar power.

The utility said if the state does not pass “adequate” legislation by the end of the month, it could shut down the Clinton and Quad Cities plants. Exelon said Quad Cities also needs to pass an annual capacity auction for the 2019-2020 timeframe. If neither of these conditions are met, Exelon said Clinton will close on June 1, 2017, and Quad Cities will shut down a year later.

“Losing these nuclear plants would not only jeopardize reliability of the grid, but it would make it nearly impossible to meet out nation’s goals to reduce carbon emissions,” said William Von Hoene Jr., senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer for Exelon. “Unfortunately, current energy policies do not fairly compensate nuclear energy for its reliability and zero-carbon benefits.”

The plan calls for a shift to a Zero Emission Standard focused specifically on at-risk nuclear plants. The standard would address stakeholder concerns by requiring full review of plants’ costs by state regulators and ensuring that only those plants that can demonstrate that revenues are insufficient to cover their costs and operating risk will be entitled to receive compensation. The Next Generation Energy Plan also calls for $140 million in new funding for solar development and a new solar rebate.

“These closures would be felt acutely by the state, and would jeopardize its standing as a clean energy leader given that Illinois’ nuclear plants provide 92 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity,” said Nuclear Matters co-chair and former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN). “Illinois faces a significant carbon reduction goal as part of the Clean Power Plan. The premature retirement of Clinton and Quad Cities would mean that these goals will be nearly impossible to meet.”

Marv Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said Illinois cannot afford to lose more power generating sources with the recent announcement from Dynegy that it will shut down 30 percent of power generation in southern Illinois.

“In addition to putting Illinois’ clean air goals in jeopardy, the state likely will face long-term reliability challenges. Considering that Dynegy announced on May 3 that it will close 1,835 megawatts of coal generation in southern Illinois with another 500 megawatts targeted for shutdown, the state cannot afford to lose another 2,900 megawatts of baseload generation,” Fertel said.

Fertel and Bayh both said Exelon’s announcement should “foster a sense of urgency” among policymakers to preserve the plants.

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