August 9, 2021 Read More →

Exelon announces net-zero goal by 2050, plans to shut down reactors

E&E News ($):

Exelon Corp. has become the latest electricity company to set a net-zero carbon goal for its utilities, but the path could be challenging if it follows through with closing four major nuclear plants in its home state of Illinois.

The energy giant’s Exelon Utilities subsidiary announced its “Path to Clean” goal yesterday morning, which includes cutting operations-driven emissions by 2030 and a net-zero carbon goal by 2050.

But Chicago-based Exelon had hoped for a financial lifeline for its emissions-free nuclear plants, which it says are uneconomic to operate in light of sagging energy prices. Movement on a wide-ranging energy proposal backed by Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has stalled, with unions and environmentalists telling state lawmakers they have reached an impasse.

Exelon last week submitted decommissioning plans to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down the Byron and Dresden plants in northern Illinois, which now are scheduled to close in September and November, respectively. The Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear plants face early closure as well.

“We don’t want to close these plants, but we cannot make decisions based off of hope of legislation being passed in the future,” Exelon CEO Chris Crane told Wall Street analysts yesterday during the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call. “We’ve been doing that since 2016 while significant losses have been incurred.”

The plants’ eight reactors represent two-thirds of Illinois’ carbon-free electricity, Crane said. What’s more, once Byron and Dresden close, it will take “many years” under the proposed energy bill to add renewable resources to “get back to where Illinois is” when it comes to clean energy.

[Kristi Swartz]

More: Exelon sets net-zero goal; warns it’s closing nuclear plants

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