Friday, June 3, 2016

Exelon Retires 2 Illinois Nuclear Plants Early, Is Three Mile Island Next?

Exelon Corporation Thursday announced it will move forward to shut down the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants, given the lack of progress on Illinois energy legislation.
The Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Ill., will close on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Ill., will close on June 1, 2018.
Quad Cities and Clinton have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years, despite being two of Exelon’s best-performing plants.
Exelon said it will continue to work with stakeholders on passing the Next Generation Energy Plan that is critical to the state’s environment and economy.
While these needed policy reforms may come too late to save some plants, Exelon is committed to working with policymakers and other stakeholders to advance an all-of-the-above plan that would promote zero-carbon energy, create and preserve clean-energy jobs, establish a more equitable utility rate structure and give customers more control over their bills.
Among other features, the Next Generation Energy Plan would nearly double energy efficiency programs, provide $1 billion in funding for low-income assistance, jumpstart solar development with rebates and $140 million in new funding, and reduce the fixed customer charge for energy delivery by 50 percent.
The NGEP includes implementation of a zero emission standard that would specifically target at-risk nuclear plants, making Illinois one of the first states to recognize the zero-carbon benefits of nuclear energy.
“We are deeply grateful for the broad support we received from policymakers, plant community leaders, labor officials and business leaders who spoke out to help keep the plants operating,” Crane said. “We wish the outcome would have been different, and we appreciate all the support this effort has received.”
Three Mile Island
On May 25, Exelon Corporation announced the Three Mile Island nuclear plant did not clear in the PJM capacity auction for the 2019-2020 planning year and will not receive capacity revenue for that period.
This is the second consecutive year that Three Mile Island Unit 1 failed to clear the PJM capacity auction. Although the plant is committed to operate through May 2018, the plant faces continued economic challenges and Exelon is exploring all options to return it to profitability. and this week reported an Exelon spokesperson as saying the failure to sell at the capacity auction does not mean TMI will be shutting down, but it is an option.
"In TMI's case, we remain hopeful that power markets recover, but if we do not see a long-term path to sustainable profitability for a particular unit, we will consider all options, including unit shutdown," said Exelon spokesperson Ralph DeSantis.
"Exelon is committed to operating TMI until at least mid-2018 and is assessing options for longer-term operations," DeSantis said.
Exelon is exploring all of its options to avoid the closure of TMI, including the possibility of legislative remedies like those in Illinois and of additional credit in Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.
In September, Exelon commented to DEP on the value of carbon-free electric generation facilities like TMI during its listening sessions on EPA’s Clean Power Climate Plan.
Three Mile Island produces enough carbon-free electricity to power about 800,000 homes. Each year it operates, Three Mile Island avoids more than 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that would be generated from a replacement coal-fired plant.
The station plays a positive role in the economy of Pennsylvania, annually providing about $170 million in statewide economic impact through direct and indirect compensation and the purchase of materials and supplies.
This includes an economic impact of nearly $50 million in Dauphin County. There are about 700 full-time employees at Three Mile Island.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed Exelon’s operating licence for TMI Unit 1 for 20 years in 2009.
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[Note: Crisci Associates provides government affairs representation for Exelon nuclear power plant operations in Pennsylvania.]

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