Exelon Starts Plan For Closure Of Two Illinois Plants

Exelon Corp. (NYSE:EXC) has announced plans to close two of its nuclear plants in Illinois. In a statement, the company said that it will close the Clinton Power Station in Clinton on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova on June 1, 2018. The Quad Cities site began operation in 1973, while the Clinton site reached full power in fall 1987.

Together, the two sites directly employ about 1,500 workers and support 4,200 direct and indirect jobs. The company says that the plants are directly responsible for more than $1.2 billion in economic activity in the region. However, the way the plants are being operated now are unprofitable for the company. According to Exelon, the two plants have lost a combined $800 million since 2009.

Exelon is already taking preliminary steps to shut down the plants. Within 30 days, the company will formally notify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the permanent shutdowns. The company is also canceling fuel purchases, ceasing outage planning, and terminating capital investment projects slated for the two plants. The plans will immediately impact about 200 construction workers and 1,000 contract workers.

The catalyst for the closures appears to be the failure of the Illinois Legislature to act on the company’s request for financial support. Exelon has said for the last two years that its Cordova and Clinton plants could close prematurely without energy reform legislation. A proposal called the Next Generation Energy plan would have raised the cost to consumers by an average of $3 per month and result in a $7.7 billion windfall for Exelon over 10 years. Lawmakers adjourned their spring session Tuesday without taking any action on the plan.

The company says that the legislation is needed to level the playing field with energy companies receiving subsidies for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, like wind and solar. Passage of the legislation would also double energy-efficiency programs, provide $1 billion in funding for low-income assistance, and jump start solar development with rebates. Bill Stoermer, a spokesman for the Quad-City plant, said, “We need the legislation passed, and there is absolutely no reason it shouldn’t be passed. It’s a consumer protection issue, it’s a job issue, and it’s an economic impact issue.”

Exelon spokesman Paul Adams said that the closure decision is not irreversible. A company email to employees on Thursday requested that they call Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers in favor of the legislation to save their jobs.