WARRENVILLE, Ill. (Oct. 31, 2022) — Constellation, the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy, said today it will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to extend the operating licenses of its Clinton and Dresden nuclear power plants in Illinois by an additional 20 years. The extension means the two plants will contribute billions of additional dollars to Illinois’ economy and continue providing enough carbon-free energy to power the equivalent of more than 2 million homes, helping the state meet its goal to get 100 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2050. If approved by the NRC, Clinton could operate until 2047 and Dresden could operate until 2049 (Unit 2) and 2051 (Unit 3).
The continued operation of the two zero-carbon plants is enabled by state and federal legislation that recognizes the unique environmental and economic value of nuclear energy. Clinton and Dresden, along with three other Illinois plants, receive credits under two state laws that prevented the plants’ early retirement and preserved the clean energy they provide.
In addition, the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August includes a nuclear production tax credit that will help support continued operation of the nation’s nuclear fleet for at least nine years. Market forces and the continuation of supportive energy policies will play an ongoing role in the ability of the plants to operate for the duration of the extended licenses.
“To get to zero emissions in Illinois and nationally, we will need to operate every carbon-free resource we have for as long as we possibly can,” said Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation. “With these extensions, Clinton and Dresden will further demonstrate the capability of nuclear assets to provide always-on clean energy when and where it is needed for decades to come, which is a testament to their unique value in addressing the climate crisis. We credit the Illinois policymakers, members of Congress and other stakeholders who worked so hard to preserve these zero-carbon resources, and who can be proud of their role in supporting clean, reliable energy and contributing to our nation’s energy security.”
The two plants are safer, more efficient and more reliable today than the day they were built as a result of continuous investment in new equipment and preventive maintenance conducted during regular refueling outages every 18 months to two years. Over the past 10 years, Clinton and Dresden have had average run-times of 93 percent and nearly 95 percent, respectively, making them among the most reliable energy sources on the grid. Clinton is currently licensed to operate through April 2027 and produces clean electricity for the equivalent of more than 800,000 homes in central Illinois. Dresden powers the equivalent of more than 1.3 million homes in northern Illinois and is currently licensed to operate until 2029 (Unit 2) and 2031 (Unit 3), after receiving its first NRC license renewal in 2004. Constellation expects to file both license applications with the NRC in 2024.
The additional carbon-free power generated by extending the licenses for 20 years will have the equivalent effect of taking 3.7 million gas-powered vehicles off the road per year, or the equivalent of adding nearly 4,700 windmills to the grid, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.
In addition to producing reliable, carbon-free energy, Clinton and Dresden are economic engines for the state. Based on an independent analysis completed in 2021 when the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act was enacted, Dresden and Clinton are expected to contribute approximately $1 billion and $550 million per year, respectively, to state GDP.
More than 540 Constellation employees work at the Clinton facility and more than 700 work at Dresden. The two plants combined pay nearly $40 million annually in property taxes to support local schools, fire departments and other government services.
The potential license extensions have been met with overwhelming support from elected leaders and public officials.
“The Clinton plant is an enormous economic engine for this region and the community,” said Terry Ferguson, chairman of the DeWitt County Board. “From the property taxes it pays to the employees who live here and spend their money to the secondary jobs created by the station’s refueling outages, this plant provides a massive boost to the area and to local businesses. We hope to see the facility stay open for many more decades.”
In Grundy County, the resurgence of industrial and commercial projects means a continued need for clean energy.
“Energy production and energy jobs are fundamental to the health of the Grundy County economy,” said Nancy Norton-Ammer, president and CEO of Grundy County Economic Development Council. “As the sector continues to evolve and move toward carbon-free power, Dresden Station is an integral part of that successful transition. The station provides excellent employment both in direct and indirect jobs, supports our local schools and taxing districts and is huge philanthropic member of the Grundy County community. We look forward to Dresden providing nuclear power to the grid for many years to come.”
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