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Illinois AFL-CIO releases updated nuclear impacts report

Rockford WIFR-LD logo Rockford WIFR-LD 1/5/2021 WIFR Newsroom
a tower that has a sign on a cloudy day: Byron Nuclear Plant © Provided by Rockford WIFR-LD Byron Nuclear Plant

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - In response to Exelon’s announcement of the premature closure of two of Illinois’ six nuclear plants — Byron and Dresden, the Illinois AFL-CIO released an updated version of the Brattle Group’s Illinois Nuclear Impacts Report.

The report highlights the economic losses and environmental impacts Illinois’ and its local communities will face with the retirement of these plants.

“The two plants also boost Illinois’ economy, generate money for local communities and support thousands of family-sustaining jobs in their regions,” the Illinois AFL-CIO said.

The updated report from the Illinois AFL-CIO – which breaks out the consumer and emissions impacts of the recently announced premature retirements of the Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants – found:

  • The Byron and Dresden plants alone prevent more than 20 million metric tons of CO2 each year – like taking nearly 4.5 million cars off the road.
  • The shuttering of the Byron and Dresden plants, which are licensed to operate for another 10 years and another 20 years respectively, would cause Illinois consumers and businesses to pay $313 million more annually for electricity, or $3.1 billion more over a decade.

 The Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants employ more than 1,500 full-time employees and 2,000 supplemental workers during refueling outages, most from local union halls. In Aug. 2020, Exelon Generation also announced that the LaSalle and Braidwood nuclear stations in Illinois, that together employ more than 1,500 skilled workers, are also at high risk for premature closure.

According to the original 2019 report, the four Illinois nuclear plants (Byron, Braidwood, Dresden and LaSalle) that are not covered by the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 support local communities and will help the state recover from the pandemic by paying millions in state taxes annually, benefitting local schools, libraries, parks and public works:

  • Account for over 28,000 in-state jobs
  • Contribute about $3.5 billion annually to state gross domestic product
  • Maintain an estimated $149 million in annual Illinois state tax revenues, which adds up to $1.3 billion over 10 years
  • Save consumers $483 million on their electricity bills every year, which adds up to $4.2 billion over 10 years

In 2019, at the request of the Illinois IBEW State Council and the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Brattle Group released an initial report on how the loss of the four Illinois nuclear plants (Braidwood, Byron, Dresden, and LaSalle) that are not covered by FEJA would affect the state’s economy and the environment.

In light of the recent announcement of Exelon’s plans to retire the Byron and Dresden plants, the firm re-issued the report, combining the content of the 2019 report with additional details focused specifically on the losses the state will incur as a result of losing just the Byron and Dresden plants. The full analysis can be found here.

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