Major utility to close 2 nuclear power plants

Major utility to close 2 nuclear power plants
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Exelon Corp. said Thursday it will close two nuclear plants in Illinois because they are no longer profitable to operate.

The retirement of the Clinton and Quad Cities plants before their useful life is over will take nearly 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity offline, potentially making it harder for Illinois to meet its greenhouse gas reduction requirements under the federal Clean Power Plan.

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Exelon specifically blamed Illinois’s Legislature for the closings, saying legislation that’s been under consideration but hasn’t passed would have made keeping the plants open more feasible.

“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,” Chris Crane, Exelon’s president, said in a statement.

“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,” he said. “Unfortunately, legislation was not passed, and now we are forced to retire the plants.”

The proposed legislation would, among other measures, allow utilities to use nuclear power to meet requirements for renewable power generation under state law. The Legislature’s annual session ended Tuesday without the bill passing.

Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, called the closings a “tragedy.”

“This can be prevented for other nuclear power plants and the Illinois legislature should act quickly to pass legislation that best serves the people of Illinois,” he said in a statement.

With Exelon’s announcement, nine nuclear power plants have announced planned closures in recent years. There are currently 60 nuclear power plants operating in the country, though many have multiple reactors.

The Clinton plant is slated to close June 2017, and the Quad Cities plant, with two reactors, is due for a June 2018 shutdown.

With 11 reactors, Illinois has the most electricity generating capacity and production from nuclear power of any state in the country.