Skip to main content

Exelon Makes the Nuclear Case in Illinois

exelon-co-logo Kathleen Barrón, Exelon’s senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs and wholesale market policy, had some strong words at a policy summit held by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

“If the units at risk of closing today -- representing 43 percent of the state’s nuclear generation -- retire, they cannot be mothballed and later brought back online,” she said. “Together they represent more than 30 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions, given that they will need to be replaced with fossil generation to provide the around-the-clock electricity needed to serve customers in the state.”

That’s true. Nuclear energy is not really properly valued for its presence in the proposed EPA climate change rule (which of course could change before it is finalized), and one consequence of that would be that shuttered nuclear plants would lead to higher carbon emissions – and cause states to miss their targets. If you consider climate change an existential issue, it doesn’t get starker.

The logical objection is this: Illinois has had nuclear reactors for a long time, so their value has already been noted. But that doesn’t paint a complete picture. if favoring renewable power through subsidies and other incentives causes nuclear energy to become relatively unprofitable, then plants that close as a result will likely be replaced by natural gas works (because baseload energy, which most renewable sources cannot supply, remains necessary). That wrecks the state’s emissions targets and provides a value to nuclear energy retroactively. The argument is: it shouldn’t be retroactive – that’s too late. It’s valuable now.

Barrón makes exactly this point:

“All zero-carbon resources should be treated similarly,” Barrón said, “and a state like Illinois that has invested in nuclear technology should be recognized for that clean energy investment.”

It certainly should. She also notes nuclear energy’s superb performance during the polar vortex earlier this year – something we’ve beat the drum on several times. But the real interest here is that Exelon has put it on the line: Illinois has a lot of nuclear capacity (a plurality, if fact, generating 47 percent of the state’s electricity) and losing it would be a loss not only for the state, but for the nation – and depending on how grand you want to get, for the world.

You can get a PowerPoint presentation about nuclear energy in Illinois (prepared by the Illinois EPA) here. It was presented at the summit.

Comments

Engineer-Poet said…
It needs to be stated directly to these policy-makers (and all of the pressure groups involved):

"These plants are essential to making any progress against carbon emissions whatsoever.  You have written policies which make them unprofitable; in effect, you are taxing them for doing good.  If they are forced to shut down, it is YOUR FAULT.  Fix the policy now, while you still can."

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…