Although Exelon Corporation recently announced plans for the closure of their Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants (pictured below), it looks like Exelon and Illinois lawmakers may work out a deal to keep these plants operating – providing carbon-free electricity.
Exelon Corporation, a Chicago-based utility, operates six nuclear plants in Illinois. However, these nuclear plants have battled market rules that favor the coal-fired and natural gas plants for several years. In the past, closure of their nuclear plants in five states was in question, but passage of subsidies by lawmakers have allowed all of these plants to continue operation except Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
While a deal appears likely, it could be complicated by a recent scandal, that resulted in Exelon’s subsidiary utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) paying a $200 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors to avoid criminal liability in an alleged bribery scheme involving lobbying practices with House Speaker Michael Madigan. Illinois state legislators may feel the political liability is too great to reach a compromise. However, working to Exelon’s favor is the direct-action CEO Chris Crane has taken to address these issues and the fact that these two plants support more than 1,500 mostly union jobs and generate about 10% of Illinois’s power.