Exelon to Close Quad Cities & Clinton Nuclear Power Plants in Illinois

Exelon's Quad Cities nuclear power plant in Illinois

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) said it is moving forward with shutting down both the dual-unit Quad Cities and single-unit Clinton nuclear power plants in Illinois.

Clinton is set to close on June 1, 2017, and Quad Cities’ closure is scheduled for June 1, 2018. Exelon said the two power plants have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years despite being two of the company’s best-performing facilities. Exelon had hoped state lawmakers would pass the Next Generation Energy Plan by the end of May, but the bill’s sponsor shelved it. The utility also said Quad Cities needed to clear the PJM's 2019-2020 capacity auction to keep operating, but it did not.

Exelon must now make permanent shutdown notifications to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 30 days, terminate capital investment projects required for long-term operation of the plants, and cancel fuel purchases and outage planning among other steps before shutting down the plants.

Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) called the closures a "tragedy." Exelon's announcement marks the third and fourth reactors that will close prematureley by 2019. Entergy said it would shut down the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts by May 2019 and the FitzPatrick plant in New York by 2017.

“This is an extremely difficult day for the 1,500 employees who operate these plants safely and reliably every day, and the communities that depend on them for support,” said Chris Crane, Exelon president and CEO. “We have worked for several years to find a sustainable path forward in consultation with federal regulators, market operators, state policymakers, plant community leaders, labor and business leaders, as well as environmental groups and other stakeholders. Unfortunately, legislation was not passed, and now we are forced to retire the plants.”

Though the NGEP is too late to save Quad Cities and Clinton, Exelon said it will continue to work with lawmakers in passing the energy plan to help promote zero-carbon energy, create clean energy jobs, establish a more equitable utility rate structure, and give customers more control over their bills.

"We are hopeful that the push to properly value these plants via passage of the Next Generation Energy Plan (NGEP) continues as the Illinois legislature meets throughout the month of June," said Nuclear Matters Co-Chair and former Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN). "Passage of the NGEP would send a signal to the rest of the state, and the country, that policymakers are taking action to ensure that our energy policies have caught up with our country’s environmental goals and priorities.”

Quad Cities employs approximately 800 workers and Clinton has 700. Both plants support approximately 4,200 direct and indirect jobs and produce more than $1.2 billion in economic activity each year. A state report also found that closing the plants would increase wholesale energy costs for the region by $439 million to $645 million annually.

"At-risk nuclear plants are struggling because the electricity markets do not appropriately value the attributes of nuclear plants, including reliable electricity generation and their carbon-abatement value," Fertel said. "This is fixable, but federal and state policymakers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and regional electric system operators must address these shortcomings with urgency to prevent other power plants from shutting down prematurely."

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