Today, Exelon Generation announced flawed energy policies are forcing it to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden nuclear power stations in 2021, providers of 30% of the carbon-free energy in Illinois. These closures represent a huge step backwards in the fight against climate change – both in Illinois and across the country – but their loss will be felt most acutely and immediately by the communities they’ve supported for decades.
Together, the plants employ more than 1,500 full-time employees and 2,000 supplemental workers during refueling outages, most from local union halls, while supporting local schools, police, fire and other services with over $63 million in state taxes annually.
To make matters worse, the environmental and public health impacts of these plant closures will extend well beyond the rural communities they once supported. Increased air pollution from the fossil fuel plants which will replace Byron and Dresden’s zero-emissions power will impact air quality everywhere – including Chicago – as elderly and disadvantaged communities pay the heaviest price.
Unfortunately, Byron and Dresden are just the latest in the list of premature closures of nuclear power plants. On behalf of our nearly 600,000 grassroots advocates, Nuclear Matters will continue to fight to reverse this troubling trend and promote policies which value nuclear energy – our country’s largest source of carbon-free energy and the backbone of our electricity supply.
State and federal policymakers agree – we cannot reach our clean energy goals without using all the carbon-free tools in our toolbox, including nuclear power. But as today’s announcement makes clear, a growing consensus isn’t enough. We must take concrete action at every level of government to ensure nuclear energy plays a pivotal role in America’s clean energy future.