Exelon, the owner-operator of Illinois’ six nuclear power plants, recently announced that the Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants will continue to operate rather than pulling out this fall as previously planned. The announcement came after the Illinois legislature and state governor approved a clean energy bill supporting carbon-free energy resources.
Illinois Senate Bill 2408 (SB 2408), enacted September 15, 2021, aims to grow the state to 50% clean energy by 2040 and 100% clean energy from by 2050. Legislation defines clean energy as energy production of at least 90% without carbon dioxide emissions, including nuclear production.
Illinois has more nuclear generating capacity than any other state. In 2020, nuclear power plants accounted for 58% of the state of Illinois power generation. Byron and Dresden together supplied 20% of the state of Illinois power generation last year.
The bill also supports state nuclear power plants through a carbon credit scheme, where utilities that serve more than 300,000 residential customers are required to purchase electricity credits generated by certain power plants. nuclear. SB 2408 adds to an existing zero-emission credits (ZEC) program that began in 2017 and provides revenue to participating nuclear power plants in Illinois.
Prior to SB 2408, the operators of the Byron and Dresden factories reported to the EIA that they planned to retire the factories in September and November 2021, respectively. For power plants with a capacity of one megawatt (MW) or more, plant owners and developers report planned capacity withdrawals and additions to the EIA, which we compile and publish in our annual and monthly data. inventory of electric generators.
In addition to providing revenue for nuclear power plants, SB 2408 requires the state’s remaining fossil fuel-fired power plants to reduce carbon emissions in stages, from 2030 and through 2045. By 2020, 18% of state production in Illinois came from coal; natural gas power plants generated an additional 14%.
As of August 2021, nearly 6,000 MW of power generation capacity in Illinois reported plans to withdraw by 2027. Almost all of these planned withdrawals are from coal-fired plants. After 2027, approximately 4,000 MW of coal-fired capacity will continue to operate in the state. Most of this coal-fired capacity, along with more than 15,000 MW of natural gas capacity, will face deadlines to reduce emissions, switch to non-fossil fuel, or retire by 2045. Illinois may grant exceptions for units needed to support network reliability.
Main contributors: Tyson Brown, Slade Johnson