As the world recorded its hottest month on record in July, Exelon Generation’s Illinois nuclear plants again operated at full power levels producing enough carbon-free electricity to keep air conditioners running and more than 11 million homes and businesses cool.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called July the hottest month since it began record keeping 142 years ago. Several hot weather alerts calling for maximum electricity generation in Illinois were issued by grid operators PJM and MISO during that time, and Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet answered the call, delivering 99 percent reliability in June and 99.9 percent in July.
"Our nuclear facilities are among the most reliable power plants in the country, and we know how important it is for them to be available during extremely hot weather conditions like we’ve experienced recently across Illinois," said Shane Marik, Senior Vice President for Midwest Operations, Exelon Generation. "I thank our hard-working nuclear employees for ensuring our fleet continues delivering carbon-free energy to Illinois residents, keeping our air clean and protecting customers from extreme heat.”
Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet regularly provides near-perfect reliability, one of many indicators that industry experts use to rate efficiency and performance. During the hottest months of 2019 and 2020, Illinois nuclear reactors also operated 98.9 percent and 99.2 percent of the time respectively.
During the hottest summer days and coldest winter nights, Exelon Generation's nuclear fleet has been critical to meeting peak electricity demand in Illinois. Having Illinois’ nuclear fleet available during times of peak demand means the system does not need to rely as much on fossil plants when the temperature spikes, avoiding harmful air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities.
Summer resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation, and maintenance. This spring, operators and maintenance personnel performed thousands of inspections, tests, and equipment repairs at each of the nuclear sites to ensure plant systems would remain available during some of the most critical times of the year.
While customers in California and the Pacific Northwest have been asked to conserve energy this summer to prevent blackouts, Northern Illinois residents know they can rely on uninterrupted power due to the base load reliability of nuclear plants, which has kept energy prices in Northern Illinois lower than any other PJM zone over the last decade.
Illinois is home to six nuclear power plants that are unmatched in their ability to deliver world class reliability with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a blistering climate report two weeks ago warning that global temperatures could rise 1.5 degrees by 2040, exposing Europe and North America to even harsher weather conditions if global carbon emissions aren’t reduced. Illinois’ nuclear plants avoid 65 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year.
Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet produces more than 50 percent of the state’s electricity and includes: Braidwood Generating Station in Will County, Byron Generating Station in Ogle County, Clinton Power Station in DeWitt County, Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County, LaSalle County Generating Station, and Quad Cities Generating in Rock Island County.