CHICAGO — While the sun beat down on Illinois last week and over the weekend, sending temperatures and energy demand soaring, Exelon Generation's six Illinois nuclear plants operated at full power, producing enough carbon-free electricity to keep 11 million homes and businesses safe and cool. That predictable, sustained energy production helped keep prices stable throughout the heatwave.
"Our zero-carbon nuclear energy facilities remain online when customers need us most, during extreme weather," said Exelon Generation Chief Nuclear Officer Bryan Hanson. "I want to thank the thousands of men and women working at our plants who kept our fleet operating during this period of high electricity demand. Our nuclear facilities are among the safest and most reliable in the country because of our dedicated, highly trained employees."
Carbon-free nuclear energy not only provides the electricity needed for air conditioning during extreme heat, it does so without releasing the harmful carbon emissions like those from fossil fuel plants. The release of harmful carbon emissions makes the already poor air quality in Illinois even worse for seniors and others at risk of health problems related to air pollution. Always-on nuclear energy reduces the need for carbon-emitting peaker plants to come online during periods of high demand, which can increase market prices for electricity.
More than half of Illinois' electricity is generated by nuclear energy, which was online more than 94 percent of the time in Illinois in 2018, including during extreme weather events. In fact, nearly 90 percent of Illinois' carbon-free power is produced by nuclear energy facilities, preventing the average annual equivalent of 15 million cars' worth of carbon dioxide from entering earth's atmosphere. There are only 10.4 million vehicles currently registered in Illinois.
Summer resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and spare equipment is ready for extreme weather. This spring, operators and maintenance personnel inspected mechanical systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation-operated facilities for extreme temperatures. These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and "summer readiness" maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.
All of Exelon Generation's 22 reactors remained online during the recent heat wave that hit across the country.
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Exelon Generation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), is one of the largest, most efficient clean energy producers in the U.S., with a generating capacity of more than 32,000 megawatts. Exelon Generation operates the largest U.S. fleet of carbon-free nuclear plants with more than 19,600 megawatts of capacity from 22 reactors at 13 facilities in Illinois, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. Exelon Generation also operates a diverse mix of wind, solar, landfill gas, hydroelectric, natural gas and oil facilities in 19 states with more than 12,400 megawatts. Exelon Generation has an industry-leading safety record and is an active partner and economic engine in the communities it serves by providing jobs, charitable contributions and tax payments that help towns and regions grow. Follow Exelon Generation on Twitter @ExelonGen, view the Exelon Generation YouTube channel, and visit http://www.exeloncorp.com/companies/exelon-generation.