An eleventh-hour vote in the Illinois capital kept Exelon Generation’s hand away from the off switch on two nuclear power plants Tuesday, as the state Senate approved a comprehensive energy bill that included credit to nuclear plants for their non-carbon producing electricity generation.
Among other things, the bill targets 2050 for the year the state will reach zero carbon emissions.
Exelon had pledged to close down the Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants due to financial considerations. In the midst of what is called a global climate change emergency, the mining of natural gas through fracking has triggered an over-supply of carbon-based fuel that has lowered prices enough to threaten many of the country’s nuclear power plants.
Exelon had made several entreaties to the powers that be, but the government stalled on any action until the last minute. Bill 2408 was passed with a 37-17 margin.
Exelon said the bill promises to correct energy market irregularities “in much the same way that wind and solar are compensated today,” referring to government support for two energy sources considered politically and environmentally safe.
Exelon was grateful for the reprieve. “This new policy offers a better future for the employees who have run these plants at world-class levels, the plant communities that we are privileged to serve and all Illinoisans eager to build a clean-energy economy that works for everyone,” said Exelon President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Crane.
In addition to delaying closures of Byron and Dresden, the LaSalle plant, also in Illinois and also facing financial headwinds, is to remain open for at least five years, the length of the carbon mitigation program, according to the World Nuclear Association.
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Take the wind and solar subsidies' with 35% and 10-25% capacity factor away and give them to Nuclear with 98% capacity factor. Nuclear plants take up a lot less space and put out a lot more power than wind and solar.