OREGON – State Rep. Tom Demmer told the Ogle County Board that people are mobilizing to try to save the Byron Generating Station, which Exelon Generation said it would be closing in September 2021.
At its Oct. 21 meeting, Demmer told board members that he and other legislators on both sides of the aisle are looking for ways to change state policies that could save the Byron and Dresden plants. Dresden, in Morris, is scheduled to close in November 2021.
Demmer said that making changes to save the plant is “not an impossibility.”
He said Exelon has been active in Springfield over the last couple of years and has talked about the importance of it nuclear plants and the carbon free electricity they produce, and how they should factor into the state’s overall electric power policy.
The company has also said that plants like the Byron Station could close if changes weren’t made.
“It’s been talked about for several years, but recently became a lot more real,” Demmer said.
But even after the talk, he said the announcement to close the plants released on Aug. 27, “…was a shock to a lot of us.”
Demmer said Gov. JB Pritzker has set up a power policy group, and Demmer said some people from Byron will be testifying in front of that group on the importance of the plant to the local economy and the region.
“There’s a discussion happening in the governor’s office,” Demmer said, adding that this discussion will be happening for “several months.”
Local officials have also come together to try to save the plant. The group put together an economic impact report on the plant, which is available at savebyron.com.
The loss of the Byron plant would mean the loss of more than 700 jobs. The plant also spreads plenty of tax money around the county. Paul Dempsey, Communications Manager of the Byron station, said that the station’s 2017 tax bill was more than $38 million. The taxes went to a variety of taxing bodies, including the Byron School District, Ogle County and the Byron Museum and Library District.
Terry McGoldrick, president of Local IBEW 15, told the board that they are looking for a long-term agreement so they don’t have to do this again in a couple of years.
“This is very serious, and it will close if we don’t get something done,” said McGoldrick, who lives in Stillman Valley.
For its part, the County Board did approve a resolution in support of the Byron plant.
It read, in part: “…be it resolved, by the County of Ogle, that we urge the State of Illinois to support polices to preserved Illinois’ nuclear energy plants, because of their support for our local economy by creating thousands of jobs, strengthening the commitment to a pollution and carbon-free environment, and ensuring a more reliable electric grid for consumers and businesses; while creating a sustainable energy future for generations…”