Economic difficulties have led Exelon Generation to suggest it might close several Illinois nuclear power plants, including those in Dresden and Braidwood.
A recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission reported that the market is making the plants at Dresden, Braidwood and Byron less profitable.
“Generation’s Dresden, Byron and Braidwood nuclear plants in Illinois are showing increased signs of economic distress, which could lead to an early retirement in a market that does not currently compensate them for their unique contribution to grid resiliency and their ability to produce large amounts of energy without carbon and air pollution,” according to the filing.
Recent auctions have resulted in less of the Generation capacity at regional plants being selected. A May 2018 PJM auction “resulted in the largest volume of nuclear capacity ever not selected in the auction, including all of Dresden and portions of Byron and Braidwood,” according to the filing.
In a statement to Shaw Media, Exelon said the plants were “economically challenged due to market flaws that fail to value zero-carbon nuclear energy for its environmental and grid resiliency benefits.” Exelon is citing policy within Illinois as one of the factors causing the decreasing profitability.
“We are working with Illinois policymakers and other stakeholders on solutions to not only maintain Illinois’ clean energy progress but to further advance efforts to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions in the electric power and other sectors,” according to the statement.
In 2016, Exelon nearly closed nuclear plants near Clinton and the Quad Cities before Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation that included $325 million in ratepayer subsidies to keep the plants open.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he is committed to renewable energy. One of his campaign pledges was for Illinois to be on track to acquire 25 percent of its energy from clean and renewable resources by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050.
On Wednesday, state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and state Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, released a letter they sent to Christopher Crane, the president and CEO of Exelon.
“We are extremely concerned about the recent news,” according to the letter. “We have both been strong advocates for nuclear power and recognize it’s both clean and reliable. Losing any nuclear plant would only speed up Illinois’ job losses and economic recovery.”
They legislators went on to request a meeting with Crane.