MARSEILLES, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2017) – While operators were powering down LaSalle’s Unit 2 reactor late Sunday night, they were also powering up an economic engine that will bring more than 2,000 jobs and millions of dollars in procurement and retail opportunities for local businesses.
As LaSalle Station begins its annual refueling and maintenance outage, more than 2,000 highly skilled workers, many from local union halls, will converge on LaSalle County, filling nearby hotels to capacity and increasing foot traffic in restaurants and shops. By the end of spring, more than 7,000 outage jobs will have been created at Exelon’s Illinois nuclear facilities, providing good wages and bolstering local businesses during a typically slower period.
“When supplemental workers come to Exelon’s LaSalle Station for the refueling outage it means additional business for our community,” said Assistant Executive Director of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Meg Skelly. “Starved Rock Country and the Ottawa Area businesses welcome the additional workers, who take advantage of all the services we have to offer, whether it’s our restaurants, hotels or shopping.”
Refueling outages allow workers to perform detailed inspections, equipment upgrades and maintenance work on the plant that cannot be completed while the reactor is operating. Workers at LaSalle will replace about one-third of the fuel in the Unit 2 reactor and will perform more than 15,000 inspections, maintenance activities and other tasks.
“Winter is not usually a time for large job growth in the trades, so seeing thousands of jobs available now is a boon to workers across the region,” said Dean Apple, President IBEW Local 15. “Filling thousands of good-paying positions over the coming months will be a tough but rewarding undertaking.”
The work is designed to enhance the unit’s ability to provide the region with safe and reliable carbon-free electricity. LaSalle Unit 1 will continue to generate electricity during the Unit 2 refueling outage.
“The safe and reliable operation of LaSalle Generating Station is always our top priority,” said LaSalle Site Vice President Bill Trafton. “The highly-skilled professionals joining us for the refueling outage share our commitment to safe operations and will help us continue providing the region with clean energy for years to come.”
At full power the facility’s two generating units produce more than 2,300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than two million typical American homes. Approximately 90 percent of the carbon-free power in Illinois is produced by Exelon’s six nuclear facilities in the state. LaSalle Station is about 75 miles southwest of Chicago near Marseilles, Ill.