Nuclear Power Plants Protect Illinois from Midwest Deep-Freeze

Exelon Generation operates 6 nuclear power plants in the state which supplied uninterrupted electricity to 11 million homes and organisations


A bird’s-eye view of Exelon’s nuclear plant at La Salle, Ottawa, Illinois, Credit: Photo by Ken Lund for Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

Plunging temperatures and blackouts dominated America’s headlines, but in Illinois, Exelon Generation’s 6 nuclear power plants supplied uninterrupted electricity to 11 million homes, hospitals, organizations and businesses. Each power plant produced carbon-free electricity at close to 100% output, operating round the clock every day.

Dave Rhoades, Exelon Generation Chief Nuclear Officer, said: “We are dedicated to delivering carbon-free, reliable energy for our customers when they need it most. 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 ensure reliability, especially during these extreme conditions.”

Electricity generated by nuclear energy is considered one of the most reliable sources of clean power. It tends to perform particularly well in challenging climatic conditions such as deep-freeze winters in the Midwest or extraordinarily hot summers. Illinois’ nuclear plants have successfully enabled families to keep warm and sustained essential services in arctic temperatures, year after year. This year, Exelon’s Illinois fleet operated nearly 99% of the time, scoring high on an indicator used frequently by industry experts to measure efficiency and performance. Nuclear power plants meet more than 50% of Illinois’ total electricity demand and count for over 90% carbon-free energy generated by the state.

Exelon achieved this milestone this year because of its meticulous attention to planning and maintenance throughout the year. Workers spent months ensuring backup generators could handle inclement weather. Before the winter set in, maintenance teams inspected freeze protection systems and electrical equipment thoroughly. They also ensured that plant systems were prepared for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions and heavy snowfall. In addition to this were several equipment upgrades and winter readiness drills performed during refueling outages.

Exelon’s nuclear plants also performed well in the summer as well. Last year, Illinois recorded its hottest summer ever during June-August 2020. The state’s nuclear power plants supplied uninterrupted electricity to homes and businesses at a success rate of 98.9%.

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