Illinois Nuclear Resources

Nuclear Energy FAQs

What is a nuclear power plant?

A nuclear power plant is a type of power station that uses nuclear reactions to generate heat, which is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity. They harness the power of nuclear fission, the process by which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller, lighter nuclei, releasing a large amount of energy in the process.

How many nuclear power plants are there in the United States?

There are approximately 93 commercial nuclear reactors spread across 56 nuclear power plants in the United States.

How many nuclear power plants are there in Illinois?

There are six stations in Illinois with electricity generated by two types of power reactors: Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR). Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) are located at the Dresden, Clinton, LaSalle, and Quad Cities Stations. Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) are located at the Braidwood and Byron Stations.

Is nuclear power safe?

Nuclear power is considered to be a safe way to generate electricity when all protocols are followed, and reactors are properly maintained. However, like any large-scale energy production, it has potential risks, most notably radiation exposure if a meltdown occurs. The industry has significantly improved safety measures and protocols, especially after incidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

What is nuclear waste, and how is it handled in the United States?

Nuclear waste, also known as radioactive waste, is a byproduct from nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, hospitals, and research facilities. It can remain radioactive and potentially harmful for thousands of years. In the United States, nuclear waste is currently stored at the nuclear power plants where it was generated. Long-term solutions include deep geological repositories, like the planned (but not yet operational) Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada.

How much of the United States' electricity comes from nuclear power?

Approximately 20% of the electricity generated in the United States came from nuclear power. It's the second-largest source of low-carbon electricity after hydropower.

What is a "nuclear microreactor"?

A nuclear microreactor, sometimes referred to as a small modular reactor (SMR), is a type of nuclear fission reactor which is smaller than conventional reactors. This small size makes them less expensive and allows for modular construction, improving scalability. They're designed to generate between 1 and 300 megawatts of electricity and are considered safer due to their passive safety systems.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of nuclear microreactors?

The benefits of nuclear microreactors include their small size, which allows for easier construction and siting, potential cost savings from mass production, and their enhanced safety features. They can also be a source of low-carbon, continuous power, ideal for remote areas or facilities with high energy needs. However, they share some of the challenges associated with traditional nuclear power, such as disposal of radioactive waste, public acceptance, and concerns about the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation.

Are there any plans for nuclear microreactors in the United States?

Yes, several companies and research institutions in the United States are considering development of nuclear microreactors. The U.S. Department of Energy also has been supportive of these efforts, seeing microreactors as a potential way to ensure energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support economic growth; click here for more information.

The 2023 spring legislative session saw a wide range of interest groups debate the merits of nuclear energy and its future, which led to ultimate passage of legislation that was vetoed by the Governor...

By Dan Petrella for Chicago TribuneJuly 09, 2023
By Andrew Adams for Capitol News IllinoisAugust 11, 2023

However, the Governor's veto message of the 2023 spring legislation (click here) left open possible avenues for alternative small nuclear reactor (SMR) legislation, which was subsequently negotiated in November 2023 (click here), even as the first pontential SMR development was canceled that same month due increased costs and decreased subscriber projections...

By Zach Bright for PoliticoNovember 9, 2023

Carbon Free Incentives FAQs

What is the credit to customers under the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)?

Under CEJA, a mechanism was established to balance the costs between nuclear power facilities and utility company customers. If the market prices for power are higher than the set price for nuclear power facilities, Constellation Energy Group, the nuclear power generator, is required to refund the difference. This results in a credit being applied to utility company customers' bills. Conversely, if market prices are lower, customers would pay the difference to Constellation and pass on the charges to the customers through a Carbon-Free Adjustment (CFRA) charge, or “clawback.”


What is the Carbon-Free Resource Adjustment (CFRA) charge?

The CFRA charge, or “clawback,” is a fee that appears on both residential and non-residential customers' bills. It was introduced as a part of the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) to recoup carbon mitigation investments.


What is an example of a Carbon-Free Resource Adjustment (CFRA) charge "clawback"?

In the context of ComEd's 2023 “clawback” actions, the CFRA operates as follows: Initially, ComEd provided credits to its customers under the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) based on certain market price conditions. However, when these conditions changed, ComEd sought to recover these credits. To do this, ComEd introduced a specific CFRA charge on customer bills. This charge is designed to recover the previously provided credits, and translates to about an 8% increase in electricity bills each month. Additionally, ComEd is adding a 5% interest on the amount being clawed back, further increasing the charge on customer bills. In summary, if a customer initially received a $50 credit on their bill due to favorable market conditions, they might now see an additional CFRA charge on their subsequent bills until the $50 credit is fully "clawed back" or recovered by ComEd with interest.



Why did ComEd provide credits to customers in the first place?

Under the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), if market prices for power turn out higher than the bailout price set for nuclear power facilities, Constellation Energy Group (the nuclear power generator) is required to refund the difference. This results in ComEd customers receiving a credit on their bill. Conversely, if the market prices are lower, ComEd pays Constellation the difference and bills the customers. ComEd had provided credits to customers that turned out to be overly generous, tied to payments under the 2021 clean-energy law.

How did ComEd allegedly mismanage the Carbon Free Resource Adjustment (CFRA) program?

Businesses filing an August 31, 2023 complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission claim that ComEd did not disclose the true nature of its CFRA tariff revisions to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), and as a result, no hearings were held regarding the propriety of these tariff revisions, and no party had an opportunity to object to the impacts of ComEd’s revisions to the CFRA before they went into effect.


Illinois Commerce Commission Complaint

On August 31, 2023, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI) and several other complainants have filed a complaint against the Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) with the Illinois Commerce Commission. (Click Here for Regulatory Filing)

Parties Involved

The complainants include the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI), Loyola Academy, Rocknel Fastener, Inc., J&M Plating Inc., Ferrite International Company, Ironwood Industries, Inc., Ford Tool & Machining, LLC, Sanchem, Inc., and Sunshine Enterprise, LLC.

Main Allegation

The complaint alleges that ComEd is overcharging the complainants and CICI members for Carbon Free Resource Adjustment charges. The total overcharge is estimated to exceed $100.5 million.

Specific Charges

The current Carbon Free Resource Adjustment charge to the complainants and CICI members is 1.241 cents per kilowatt-hour. This charge includes an unlawful clawback from the complainants and CICI members of Carbon Free Resource Adjustment credits received during ComEd’s June 2022- May 2023 billing months. Through this overcharge, ComEd is forcing the complainants and CICI members to pay back an estimated total exceeding $100.5 million in Carbon Free Resource Adjustment credits, plus accrued compounded interest, during the June 2023 – May 2024 billing months.

Connection to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)

ComEd's actions are alleged to violate the CEJA because the company determined the amounts of the credits to be clawed back without Commission review and approval. The CEJA requires that the determination of the amounts of reconciliation charges for Carbon Free Resource Adjustment credits be made by the Commission in an annual reconciliation proceeding.

Relief Sought

The complainants request the Commission to order ComEd to stop billing Carbon Free Resource Adjustment charges that include charges to recover prior credits and accrued compounded interest. They also seek a refund of all such charges that occur before the cessation of these charges.

Illinois Nuclear Plant Closure History

"For years, Exelon has warned of more nuclear-plant closures, and the timetable for the ones at risk has been clear.

That schedule depended on promises the company made in auctions conducted years ahead of time to ensure that certain power plants would deliver in times of highest demand. The Dresden nuke’s pledges to deliver expire in mid-2021. Thus, it was no shock yesterday when Exelon announced the Dresden station in Grundy County would close next year."

By Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business - August 28, 2020
By Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business - August 27, 2020
By Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business - October 31, 2019

"Now in the crosshairs: Exelon’s LaSalle power station in addition to the previously identified Byron, Braidwood and Dresden plants. Two other Illinois nukes, Clinton and Quad Cities, already are benefiting from more than $200 million a year in ratepayer subsidies, enacted in the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act."

By Hannah Meisel for The Daily Line - December 13, 2019
By Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business - March 22, 2019

"Exelon's five nukes in Illinois collectively this year will turn an estimated profit of $472 million, according to the report. Each of them separately will make money. Even in 2021, when revenues are slated to fall from 2019 levels, the plants together have the capability of turning a profit of about $228 million, the report says.

The reason they all won't be able to do that in 2021 is because some of them didn't qualify for payments from businesses and consumers for their promise to produce during the highest-demand days of the year."

Click here for the 2018 State of the Market Report for PJM by Joseph Bowring  with Monitoring Analytics, LLC)

By Steve Daniels for Crain's Chicago Business - February 12, 2019

February 13, 2019 press release from State Senator Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and State Representative David Allen Welter, R-Morris courtesy of Capitol Fax:

“The news of a potential shutdown of two of our nuclear power plants is extremely concerning to me and no doubt to the individuals and families who would be directly impacted,” said Sen. Rezin. “Not only do these facilities stimulate Illinois’ labor income and employment, but they also provide huge amounts to the local property tax base, supporting our school districts, higher education and local government. It is my hope that Exelon answers our call for a meeting so that we can begin the process of establishing a path forward.”

2018-2019 Nuclear Subsidy Litigation

Although more traditional litigation through the judicial branch appeared to run it's course in April 2019 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear challenges to Illinois' and New York's nuclear subsidies, regulatory activity still remained important to the future of the "clean energy" subsidy debate...

In December 2019, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission handed down a ruling that involved at least some of the price floor predictions being debated in states with clean energy subsidies and nuclear plants...

From Reuters - December 19, 2019

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which is largely a coalition of advocacy groups, took a dim view of the December 2019 FERC ruling (click here for their statement); however, clean energy generators will also potentially take a position, and the late 2019 separation of Exelon from these groups (click here) means nuclear plants may try to position themselves on their own as well.

2019 Nuclear & "Clean Energy" Legislation

Senate Floor Amendment No. 2:

Senate Floor Amendment No. 3:

House Committee Amendment No. 1:

Senate Committee Amendment No. 1:

Synopsis as Introduced:

Senate Committee Amendment No. 1:

House Floor Amendment No. 1:

Nuclear Plant Property Tax History

By Katy O'Grady-Pyne for Clinton Journal, October 19, 2017