BYRON, Ill. - When the heat was on this summer, Byron Generating Station answered the call. The three-month period of June, July and August featured sweltering heat and pockets of thunderstorms, but the well-maintained nuclear plant's two units operated every single day.
Now as fall approaches, plant personnel and technical experts have taken Unit 1 offline for a planned refueling and maintenance outage. The work performed during the outage will ensure another reliable run for Unit 1 through the upcoming winter, another summer in 2016 and any other kind of weather over the next 18 months.
More than 1,200 additional workers will join the 850 permanent Byron Station employees, providing a temporary boost to the local economy. Most local motels, restaurants and shops from Rockford to Rochelle see an increase in customers during Byron Station refueling outages.
Workers at Byron Station will perform more than 10,000 inspections and maintenance activities and do other work that cannot be done while the unit is operating. This includes replacing about one-third of the unit's fuel. All of the activities are designed to assure the unit's consistent operation when online.
"We are proud of the station's ability to supply power to air conditioners at homes and businesses through a tough summer; now we'll focus on another efficient outage," said Byron Station Site Vice President Russ Kearney.
With the outage underway, residents should be aware that one of the cooling towers will not produce any water vapor cloud. This is normal when a unit is taken offline.
Byron's Unit 2 will continue to supply carbon-free electricity to Exelon customers during the Unit 1 outage. With both units at full power, the site produces almost 2,500 megawatts, enough electricity to power more than 2 million average American homes.
Byron Generating Station is in Ogle County, Ill., about 25 miles southwest of Rockford.