* Make sure to read the last excerpted paragraph in this Crain’s story…
Looks like Exelon’s Quad Cities nuclear plant is a goner come September.
Chris Crane, CEO of the Chicago-based utility giant, which also is the largest nuclear plant operator in the country, made clear on a conference call with analysts today that he doesn’t see a way to keep money-losing Quad Cities open in the absence of a state law to charge ratepayers throughout Illinois more to bolster revenues at Exelon’s nukes. Exelon says that three of its six Illinois plants are losing money as wholesale power prices remain historically low due in large part to the cheap cost of natural gas.
Exelon has established September as the time it must decide the future of Quad Cities, and an anticipated revenue windfall for Exelon’s nukes courtesy of a regional power-plant auction set for next month almost certainly won’t be enough, Crane said.
That auction, conducted by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to set the price of “capacity” paid by all utility customers to qualifying power plants, is expected to materially hike electricity rates beginning in June 2018, as well as revenues for big power generators like Exelon. PJM has changed the rules of the auction to virtually ensure that companies will get paid more and energy prices for customers will rise. Exelon’s Illinois nukes are in line to see hundreds of millions in additional revenue beginning in mid-2018 from the changes. […]
Quad Cities, too, ultimately could survive if Exelon prevails in Springfield, even if the company announces in September it will close the plant. Company executives in the past have said they could reverse such a decision as late as six months or so after making it. After that, though, it would be irreversible, they’ve said.
So, in reality, the GA has until March to do something.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Former Exelon CEO John Rowe begged to differ this week…
Q: Depending how the upcoming PJM capacity auctions go, Exelon’s nuclear plants may benefit a lot and it would seem they would not need the bill in the legislature to guarantee their future. What do you think?
A: The [MISO] capacity auction in southern Illinois did not have much effect on Exelon because it sold the power forward. It would have an effect a year from now but not big enough to make that plant [Clinton Power Station] profitable. The [PJM] auction could make that Quad Cities plant profitable.
*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition…
“Exelon’s threats to close the Quad City and Byron plants increase the urgency to pass the Illinois Clean Jobs bill, which will raise production of wind and solar to 35% and double energy efficiency. This is the only viable way for Illinois to meet the Obama Administration’s new Clean Power Plan rules expected out next week and along the way save consumers $1.6 billion on electric bills and employ more than 32,000 workers over the next decade and beyond.”