WARRENVILLE, Ill. — While temperatures plunged across the U.S. last week, Exelon Generation’s six Illinois nuclear plants operated around the clock, producing enough power to keep 11 million homes and businesses warm.
All six nuclear facilities ran at nearly 100 percent output levels last week, providing schools, hospitals, businesses and residences the electricity needed to keep heaters running during the cold snap, according to a press release from Exelon.
“We are dedicated to delivering carbon-free, reliable energy for our customers when they need it most,” said Dave Rhoades, Exelon Generation Chief Nuclear Officer. “We’re grateful to our 4,500 Illinois full-time essential workers for accomplishing that goal while managing frigid temperatures and working safely during the pandemic. Our resiliency and commitment to operational excellence ensures reliability, especially during these extreme conditions.”
Nuclear produces clean energy around the clock and is the most reliable form of power generation, especially during extremely cold stretches when demand for electricity is high in Illinois, the press release said. Despite the weather, the state’s nuclear plants have continuously sent baseload electricity to the grid.
The six Illinois nuclear plants recorded a near-perfect reliability rate last winter, running nearly 99 percent of their planned operating time. Together, the plants generate more than half of Illinois’ electricity and nearly 90 percent of its carbon-free energy.
Winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and supplemental equipment are ready for inclement weather. Last fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation facilities for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions, and heavy snowfall. These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and winter readiness maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.
Illinois’ nuclear plants recorded a near-perfect reliability rate last summer as well. During June, July and August 2020, which was Illinois’ hottest summer on record, the plants operated 98.9 percent of the time, according to company officials.