Exelon predicts Illinois nuclear legislation soon

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) officials said Feb. 13 that they expect legislation to be introduced in the Illinois General Assembly within 30 days that would seek ways to better monetize the value of the company’s in-state nuclear fleet.

If they want to address the issue this session, lawmakers must pass a bill before recess scheduled May 31, officials said during an Exelon quarterly earnings call. Exelon is the nation’s largest nuclear operator.

Exelon President and CEO Christopher Crane has been making the case that current markets don’t recognize the value of nuclear power’s carbon-free baseload generation. Crane has said that some nuclear units are in danger of closing in energy markets dominated by power from cheap natural gas.

Crane addressed the issue along with Senior Executive Vice President/Chief Strategy Office William Von Hoene Jr., during the call.

 Exelon officials expect the measure to receive support from Democrats and Republicans in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.

The legislation, at least initially, will be purely a nuclear bill, Exelon officials said during the call. There could also be some renewable resources and energy official bills introduced by other parties, the officials added.

Several state agencies in Illinois published a 269-page document on “Impacts and Market-Based Solutions” on premature nuclear retirements in the state. The mammoth document was issued in response to House Resolution 1146.

Von Hoene said that Exelon is not looking for a handout for its Illinois nuclear plants. Exelon supports anything that rewards carbon-free resources equally, he said. This could include CO2 cap-and-trade policy, a carbon tax, low-carbon standards or other market-related measures.

Exelon continues to work on market and policy issues affecting nuclear in forums including Illinois, the PJM Interconnection and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan.

When asked, Exelon officials said they believe the “basic tenets” of the EPA CO2 reduction plan will survive although changes will likely result from either legal challenges or congressional revisions.

Meanwhile, in New York State, Exelon and other parties continue to work hard on a reliability support services agreement (RSSA), which is important to extending business operations are the R.E. Ginna nuclear plant. Look for some new developments to be made public within a week or two, officials said.

Exelon cites good performance for reactor fleet in 2014

The company’s nuclear fleet ended 2014 with a capacity factor in excess of 94%, officials noted.

Exelon began operating the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group units effective April 1, 2014. The units are jointly owned by EDF and Exelon. As a result, the 2014 financial results include CENG’s results of operations on a fully consolidated basis from April 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2014.

The planned refueling at Exelon-operated nuclear units, excluding Salem, totaled 97 days in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with 94 in the fourth quarter of 2013. There were eight non-refueling outage days in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with 33 days in the fourth quarter of 2013, Exelon said.

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.