Exelon looks to relicense two Illinois nuclear plants for 20 years

Exelon (NYSE:EXC), the nation’s largest nuclear operator, has filed 20-year license renewal applications for two nuclear power plants in Illinois.

Exelon said May 29 that it filed license extension applications for both its  Braidwood Generating Station in Braceville, Ill. and Byron Generating Station in Byron, Ill. The filing kicks off a multi-year review by NRC.

The public will have a chance to comment on the application and attend NRC hosted public meetings for each of the nuclear facilities. A final decision on the applications would be expected in 2015.

Braidwood 1 is currently licensed to operate until 2026 and Unit 2 until 2027. Byron 1 is licensed to operate until 2024 and Unit 2 until 2026. The plants generated a combined 37 million MWh of electricity in 2012, enough to power more than four million homes.

Byron has two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) that together have roughly 2,300 MW of generating capacity. Braidwood is also a dual-unit PWR station with about 2,300 MW of generating capacity.

Braidwood is about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. Byron Station is located in Ogle County, Ill., about 25 miles southwest of Rockford.

Over the next two years, the NRC will review the application for both safety and environmental impacts. Teams of NRC staff will visit each facility to verify information in the application. Additional information will be requested by the NRC, which Exelon will provide.

The NRC will then complete a Safety Evaluation Report (SER) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The process also includes a review by the independent Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards (ACRS). The public will have an opportunity to comment on the application and attend NRC hosted public meetings for each of the nuclear facilities.

Last fall, Exelon said it was scaling back its renewable energy and nuclear power capital spending by more than $2bn.This includes delaying long-discussed extended power uprates at both the Limerick in Pennsylvania and the LaSalle nuclear plants in Illinois.

In the first quarter of 2013, Exelon recorded a capacity factor of more than 96% at its nuclear fleet.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.