Constellation Seeks License to Operate Dresden Clean Energy Center for an Additional 20 Years

Extending the life of this nuclear plant in northern Illinois will generate reliable, carbon-free electricity to help clean-up dirtier industries and power the growing data economy


BALTIMORE (April 17, 2024) — Constellation, the nation’s largest producer of reliable, carbon-free energy, has filed a subsequent license renewal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its Dresden Clean Energy Center in Morris, Ill., another  in a series of investments the company is making to add clean, firm energy to the grid, help address the climate crisis and support the regional economy. The facility’s license was first renewed by the NRC in 2004.

The filing begins a comprehensive, multi-year review by the NRC to renew the station’s license, which, with adequate market or policy support, would allow it to continue providing Illinois with reliable, carbon-free energy for another 20 years through 2051. Dresden, which produces enough baseload, carbon-free electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 1.4 million homes, is currently licensed to operate through 2029 for Unit 2 and 2031 for Unit 3.

“Extending the operating licenses of the nation’s nuclear fleet for an additional 20 years will add more clean megawatts to the grid than all the renewables ever built in this country, and those nuclear plants will continue operating long after the wind and solar facilities under construction today are retired.” said Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation. “Nuclear produces half of America’s clean energy, but many still take it for granted and wrongly assume it will always be there. In reality, Constellation reinvests hundreds of millions of dollars each year in its industry-leading nuclear fleet to keep these massive economic engines running, providing thousands of family-sustaining jobs, preserving energy security and delivering the unmatched reliability we need to grow our economy while addressing the climate crisis.”

Public support for nuclear energy has increased in recent years both in the U.S. and globally as concerns about climate change and energy reliability have grown. Nuclear energy plants are the only carbon-free, baseload energy resources that can operate 24/7 in all weather conditions. In severe weather events like the 2014 polar vortex and Winter Storm Elliot on Christmas Eve in 2022, nuclear facilities have repeatedly kept the nation’s electric grid operating continuously when Americans needed power the most. Constellation’s clean energy centers have operated almost 95% of the time over the past 5 years.  

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) enacted by Illinois lawmakers in 2021 prevented Dresden from being retired prematurely during a period of economic uncertainty. Enactment of the federal nuclear production tax credit in 2022 extended policy support through 2032. Renewing the NRC license for Dresden will give Constellation the ability to keep this plant operating through 2051, although future policy and market conditions will ultimately determine how long the plant operates.

Enabling the continued operation of Dresden through renewal of its NRC license would provide the State of Illinois an estimated 305 terawatt hours of additional carbon-free electricity over the 20-year extended lifespan of the plant. This is more clean energy than all of Illinois’ wind and solar facilities have produced to date. This additional carbon-free electricity can be used to power decarbonization of the industrial, agricultural and transportation sectors through the production of clean hydrogen and to drive investment in the state’s growing data economy.

The Dresden site employs nearly 700 people and is one of Grundy County’s largest employers. The facility’s workforce more than doubles during its annual refueling and maintenance outage, helping increase worker payrolls and improve the bottom lines of local businesses. Over the next 10 years, more than half of Constellation’s nuclear reactors are expected to require NRC license renewal. Securing those license renewals and continuing to operate each plant will create thousands of high-paying, family sustaining jobs.

“Constellation’s Dresden Clean Energy Center is an economic engine for Grundy County and the surrounding communities,” said Nancy Norton, president and CEO of Grundy County Economic Development. “The station’s hundreds of employees and contractors are part of the fabric of our community and spend their earnings at local stores, restaurants and businesses. Dresden is the No. 1 contributor of property taxes that support emergency response, education and many other government services that impact the daily lives of Grundy County residents.”

The Dresden license renewal application is the latest in a series of investments to accelerate clean-energy growth initiatives across the company. In February, Constellation announced it is seeking license renewal for its Clinton Clean Energy Center in Central Illinois. In 2023, Constellation announced the acquisition of a partial ownership stake in the South Texas Project nuclear plant, an $800 million uprate project to add more carbon-free output at the Braidwood and Byron clean energy centers in Illinois, and a $350 million repowering project that included upgrades at the Criterion Wind Project in Maryland.




About Constellation

A Fortune 200 company headquartered in Baltimore, Constellation Energy Corporation (Nasdaq: CEG) is the nation’s largest producer of clean, carbon-free energy and a leading supplier of energy products and services to businesses, homes, community aggregations and public sector customers across the continental United States, including three fourths of Fortune 100 companies. With annual output that is nearly 90% carbon-free, our hydro, wind and solar facilities paired with the nation’s largest nuclear fleet have the generating capacity to power the equivalent of 16 million homes, providing about 10% of the nation’s clean energy. We are further accelerating the nation’s transition to a carbon-free future by helping our customers reach their sustainability goals, setting our own ambitious goal of achieving 100% carbon-free generation by 2040, and by investing in promising emerging technologies to eliminate carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy. Follow Constellation on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Brett Nauman