I consider nuclear plants like this, who are on the chopping block, they are materially, financially and employee psychologically impaired. The risk is similar to if a plant had 50% of their emergency diesel generators secretly and unknowingly inop for the rest of the life of the plant.
Fri, 04/29/2016 - 7:00am
CLINTON — With Exelon's Clinton nuclear power plant again in jeopardy of closing, state legislators and local officials are renewing their effort to pass legislation to save the plant that is DeWItt County's largest employer.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, and Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, met with DeWitt County citizens Thursday morning to urge them to get behind Mitchell's HB 6521, even though no one is sure that legislation is in its final form.
"It could be, but do I think it will be? Probably not," admitted Mitchell, following a packed meeting at the DeWitt County Courthouse. "Negotiations are going on daily on this thing."
The Clinton plant continues to lose money, Exelon spokesman Brett Nauman said Thursday, and without a change in state law, it will have to be closed.
"Our position is that we need urgent action by the Legislature in order to keep the plant running long-term, and if we don't get that decision, we're going to have to consider making the very hard economic choice of retiring the plant before its license expires," Nauman said.
He said the plant about 35 miles west of Champaign has hemorrhaged $453 million over the last six years, primarily because its costs to operate are greater than other power plants in the Midcontinent Independent System Operators region, which includes a lot of low-cost wind, coal-fired and natural-gas plants, Nauman said.
"It's just the financial losses," he said. "We've lost a lot of money over the last six years."
Closing the plant, which began operation 29 years ago this week, "would be a shame because it is a high-performing plant. It could operate for another 30 or 50 years," Nauman said.
He said the low cost of natural gas "is not going away anytime soon, and then it becomes as a state, what is it we want to do to keep nuclear plants operating? Do we see the value in the nuclear plants?"
One part of their value, as defined in Mitchell's bill, is their minuscule carbon emissions and how that would help Illinois meet proposed federal clean-air rules.
HB 6561 would define nuclear power as low-carbon, renewable energy, similar to wind and solar energy.
Nauman said Exelon wants legislation that would allow for "a small rate increase that would allow the nuclear plants to get further on down the road and not lose as much money, to get to the point where the government's carbon reduction rules start kicking in."...