Exelon gets 20-year NRC license renewal for LaSalle nuclear plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the 20-year license renewal application for the Exelon (NYSE:EXC) LaSalle County Generating Station in Illinois.

After a lengthy review, Units 1 and 2 were independently approved to operate until 2042 and 2043 respectively, NRC and Exelon said in Oct. 19 news releases.

The operator, Exelon Generation, submitted the renewal application Dec. 9, 2014.

LaSalle County Generating Station generates more than 2,300 MW thanks to the two boiling water reactors (BWRs) at the complex in LaSalle County. That’s enough for more than 2 million homes. Over the last five years LaSalle Station has operated at 93% of capacity, a key measure of reliability, Exelon said.

“Today’s announcement is great news for our plant, our workers and the entire community,” said Site Vice President William Trafton.

LaSalle Station has more than 800 full-time workers at the site. Marseilles Mayor Jim Trager also views the license extension as a victory for the community.

“For 34 years the city of Marseilles has benefitted from having LaSalle Station as a neighbor,” Trager said. “We are pleased with the NRC’s decision to extend the license and look forward to another 20-plus years with the station’s economic and environmental contributions to the community.”

The announcement comes as Exelon continues to seek better market valuation, and legislative incentives, for its nuclear units in Illinois. Exelon’s six nuclear stations produce 50% of Illinois’ power and more than 90% of the state’s carbon-free power, Exelon said.

“However two of these safe and well-run facilities, Clinton and Quad Cities, are financially challenged and scheduled for premature closure,” Exelon said in its news release. “Comprehensive energy legislation is urgently needed this fall to keep these clean energy resources online,” Exelon said in the news release.

NRC has renewed licenses for most nuclear units

The NRC staff’s review of the application proceeded on two tracks. A safety evaluation report was issued June 2. A supplemental environmental impact statement was issued Aug. 26.

These documents, as well as other information about the LaSalle license renewal application, are available on the NRC website, NRC said. The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards also reviewed the staff’s work.

Renewal of LaSalle’s operating licenses brings to 85 the number of commercial nuclear power reactors with renewed licenses (two of those have since permanently shut down). Applications for an additional 10 renewals are currently under review.

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.