BYRON, Ill. (March 9, 2020) — Operators removed Byron Generating Station’s Unit 1 nuclear reactor from service at 1 a.m. today for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage. While the unit is offline, technicians will replace one-third of the reactor’s fuel and complete maintenance tasks that cannot be performed while the reactor is online.
The unit just completed its third consecutive uninterrupted 18-month cycle, in which it powered more than 1 million homes and businesses with carbon-free electricity every day. That clean power production is the equivalent emissions avoidance of removing 2 million vehicles from local roadways.
“Completing three 18-month cycles on Unit 1 without interruption is a testament to nuclear power’s reliability and to the precise maintenance and operation by the nuclear workforce,” said Site Vice President Mark Kanavos. “We rely on the skills and talents of many local union workers to support reliable, carbon-free energy generation for the Rock River community.”
More than 1,200 supplemental workers will join 800 Exelon Generation employees in preparing the facility for another reliable run.
“The jobs provided by refueling outages are reliable and good-paying, attracting expert labor from far and wide,” said Terry McGoldrick, president of IBEW Local 15. “It’s a win-win for the local community and the workforce, who both benefit from their work and stay in the Rock River area.”
For several weeks preceding and following the outage, the influx of workers provides a significant boost to the local economy.
“The refueling outages at Byron Station are a boon to our local economy,” said Liz Vos, executive director of the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our area businesses will see the added foot traffic, which can make a big difference to the bottom lines of many merchants.”
In addition to regular refueling and maintenance, the station will continue its commitment to major equipment upgrades. During the outage technical experts will replace two large transformers, which are used to take the electricity produced in the Unit 1 generator and distribute it within the plant to operate pumps and other equipment. Continually upgrading or replacing major components at the plant helps ensure the facility will run uninterrupted between outage projects, providing continuous carbon-free electricity to Northern Illinois and beyond.
Byron Generating Station is in Ogle County, Ill., about 20 miles southwest of Rockford. With both units at full power, the site produces almost 2,500 megawatts, enough electricity to power more than 2 million average American homes.