CHICAGO - In the next few weeks, Exelon Corp. will undertake the first segment of a massive spending program in Illinois that will create more than 4,200 full-time and "full-time equivalent" positions over the next 5 years in the Illinois cities and counties that house Exelon nuclear facilities.
Beginning in September, Exelon will launch the first of 101 individual projects in a $4.6 billion spending program that includes the decommissioning of the shuttered Zion Station in Lake County, equipment upgrades at six Illinois nuclear plants to produce more carbon-free megawatts and refueling outages that require thousands of temporary workers.
By way of context, the total allocation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Chicago, Cook County and the collar counties is $3.6 billion.
"This is our own economic stimulus program for Illinois," said Exelon Nuclear President and Chief Nuclear Officer Michael Pacilio. "The state is going through tough economic times, and we believe private investment, ultimately, is what will bring us back to prosperity. We want the people of Illinois to know that we're vested in their future."
The first project in line is the decommissioning of the Zion Station, which officially begins in September. The $1 billion, 10-year project will be the largest nuclear plant dismantling ever undertaken in the United States, requiring an average of 200 skilled workers each year, most of them local, and a peak workforce of 400. Zion Station sits on the shore of Lake Michigan about 40 miles north of Chicago.
In a first-of-its kind arrangement approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Exelon expects to transfer the station license early next month to EnergySolutions, a Salt Lake City nuclear services company that will dismantle the plant and remove material and parts to its Utah waste facility. At the completion of the project, responsibility for the site will transfer back to Exelon, and the 200-acre site will be available for other unrestricted commercial uses. Throughout the process, Exelon will retain ownership of the plant's used nuclear fuel, which must remain on the property in a secure facility.
EnergySolutions is an industry leader in the decommissioning of nuclear plants and permanent disposal of nuclear waste, and has clients worldwide. EnergySolutions was formed in 2006 by merging BNG America, Duratek, Envirocare of Utah, and the D&D division of Scientech.
"The Zion plant has been part of our community for years, and we're gratified that it will continue to deliver benefits over the next decade as it is dismantled," said City of Zion Mayor Lane Harrison. "This project will be of immense help to our residents by bringing desperately needed new employment."
Other Exelon projects include:
- Planned investments totaling $1.4 billion in uprates at six Illinois nuclear stations, generating an estimated 50 permanent positions and an additional 280 full-time equivalent jobs. The installation of state-of-the-art equipment and materials will increase continuous generation of carbon-free electricity in Illinois by 420 million watts.
- Execution of additional plant upgrades and 33 nuclear plant refueling operations at Exelon's six Illinois nuclear plants through 2015, at a cost of $2.2 billion (not including the cost of uranium fuel). The 33 refueling outages alone will result in approximately $990 million spent for contractor services including wages for about 3,700 full-time equivalent positions.
"This kind of private investment in infrastructure with an eye to the future is what we need more of in Illinois," said Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. "The people of Illinois should take note that Illinois business and industry and the workers we depend on are leading the way to new investment and recovery."
A "full-time equivalent" job is the sum of work hours that total 2080 (the normal number of work hours in a year). Multiple part-time or temporary positions can equal one full-time equivalent position.
Additional information about the Zion Station decommissioning can be found at www.exeloncorp.com and www.EnergySolutions.com.