* Steve Daniels asks how credible Exelon’s threat is to close four of its six nuclear power plants if it doesn’t get a ratepayer bailout…
The four plants operated by Illinois’ largest power generator together have the capacity to generate nearly 8,900 megawatts, enough to serve 7.8 million customers. It’s fair to say those four facilities produce the majority of electrons keeping lights on in the Chicago area. Mothballing them sounds like a nightmare scenario, right?
But the company can’t just close plants without alternatives in place. Exelon would have to submit a plan to PJM Interconnection, the grid operator overseeing a multistate region that includes northern Illinois, to ensure replacement power is available. If not, Exelon would need to keep one or more plants open on year-to-year contracts negotiated by PJM until reliability was ensured. […]
The cost to Exelon of retiring plants that otherwise would operate for another 25 years or more could be substantial. In Illinois, thanks to the 1997 state law that deregulated power generation, ratepayers bear no responsibility for financing the eventual radioactive decommissioning and restoration of those sites. The funds Exelon has set aside to handle that multibillion-dollar job for two of those facilities, the Byron and Braidwood stations, are woefully low. Judging by what Exelon told investors in 2016—the last time it came close to shuttering plants in Illinois—it could be on the hook to furnish more than $1 billion to assure federal regulators there will be enough money for the job.
In addition, reactors at one of the four plants—Dresden in Morris—already are scheduled to close in 2029 and 2031, respectively, when their federal licenses expire. Dresden currently is obligated to run until at least June 2021. Subsidizing the plant with ratepayer cash would appear to buy workers and the Grundy County community that benefits economically from the nuke no more than about eight years.
There’s more, so go read the rest.