Exelon says it still plans to shut down uneconomic nuclear reactors

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Aug 4 - U.S. energy company Exelon Corp said this week that it still plans to retire uneconomic nuclear reactors at Byron and Dresden in Illinois this autumn without some state or federal program passed to save the plants.

Exelon CEO Christopher Crane said in an earnings release that the company remains hopeful that a state solution will pass in time to save the plants, but noted clean energy legislation in Illinois remains caught in negotiations over unrelated policy matters.

Those unrelated matters include a disagreement over retirement of fossil plants owned by others.

Separatly, there is also insufficient public and political anger at Exelon's Commonwealth Edison unit after the Chicago-based utility agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department probe over inappropriate lobbying practices in 2020.

Unless something changes, Exelon will shut down the 2,300 - megawatt Bryon in September and the 1,797 - MW Dresden in November. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

If ever there was any help from the federal government, Crane said passage of legislation remains uncertain and will be too late to save Byron and Dresden plants.

Exelon has blamed the planned nuclear shutdowns on market rules that it said favour fossil-fired and renewable plants over carbon-free nuclear energy.

Dresden and Byron face revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars and together employ more than 1,500 employees.

Exelon, which operates six nuclear plants in Illinois, won state subsidies that analysts have said provide about $230 million a year to keep its Clinton and Quad Cities plants operating.

However, Exelon has long sought subsidies for its other Illinois nuclear plants.

But when states do not provide subsidies, the company retired reactors in Pennsylvania so as to help trille and three mile island in 2013 in Pennsylvania.