BYRON, Ill. – Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced the approval of Byron Generating Station’s license renewal application. The approval is the culmination of a rigorous, multi-year process that licenses Byron Station to operate until 2044 for Unit 1 and 2046 for Unit 2.
“Nuclear energy is an essential part of the energy mix in Illinois and is needed for the state to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power plan to reduce carbon emissions,” said Byron Station Site Vice President Mark Kanavos. “The NRC’s approval of the license renewal demonstrates that Byron Station has met all the criteria to provide around-the-clock reliable, carbon-free energy until at least the middle of the century.”
“The community has benefitted from our partnership with Exelon Generation and the license renewal for Byron Station is a positive for the entire region,” said Chris Millard, mayor of the city of Byron. “Many people rely on the economic activity the station’s large employee base brings to the area, and we hope the facility continues to operate for another generation of Northern Illinois residents.”
Byron Station supports approximately 5,100 direct and secondary jobs in Illinois, and the facility contributes $1.7 billion to the state’s economy annually.
While license renewal provides Byron Station the opportunity to operate for decades to come, there is no guarantee. The facility continues to face economic challenges due to distorted markets that don’t properly recognize and value all carbon-free energy sources equally. Exelon announced in September that it will defer any decisions about the future operations of Byron Station for one year.
Exelon personnel spent thousands of hours preparing the license renewal application that was submitted to the NRC on May 29, 2013. This process involved reviewing thousands of documents, a detailed review of historical equipment and component performance, a safety and environmental review and a rigorous review of the existing maintenance and engineering programs. The reviews were conducted to ensure the station is capable of maintaining plant systems over the extended license period.
The plant’s original 40-year operating license was set to expire in 2024 for Unit 1 and 2026 for Unit 2.The 40-year term for initial nuclear plant operating licenses is based on amortization schedules to finance large utility projects, not on safety, technical or environmental considerations. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the original legislation authorizing civilian use of nuclear energy, permits nuclear power plants to renew their operating licenses.
Byron Generating Station generates nearly 2,300 megawatts of electricity, enough for more than two million homes. Byron Station also reduces the region’s reliance on fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Over the last 10 years, Byron Station has operated at 93.8 percent of capacity, which is above the industry average of 91percent and according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, significantly higher than the next closest U.S. baseload electricity provider, coal (59%).