Constellation to invest $800M in new equipment for greater clean energy output at Illinois nuclear plants

Published on February 23, 2023 by Chris Galford

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Clean generation output at the Braidwood and Byron Generating Stations in Illinois should increase by approximately 135 MW, thanks to $800 million in planned equipment investments by Constellation.

The announcement, made last week, concerns two nuclear plants in the state kept from premature retirement when the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act of 2021 passed. Their position was further shored up by the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, which offered a base level of support for nuclear energy nationwide and encouraged further investments from Constellation.

“These investments in our world-class nuclear fleet will allow us to generate more zero-carbon energy with the same amount of fuel and land, and that’s a win for the economy, the environment, and Illinois families and businesses who rely on our clean energy,” Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation, said. “These projects will help create family-sustaining jobs and are a direct result of state and federal policies that recognize the incredible value of nuclear energy in addressing the climate crisis while keeping our grid secure and reliable.”

As part of the work, the main turbines at Braidwood and Byron will be replaced with modern, high efficiency units. This could increase output as early as 2026, although the full results won’t be felt until 2029, as work will occur in stages during scheduled refueling outages. When finished, the company reported that the additional output would be equivalent to powering 100,000 average homes every day.

While the sites currently employ 1,200 permanent workers, Constellation predicted that thousands of temporary construction jobs would become available to move the projects forward.