US-based Exelon Corporation has started measures towards closing its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants, citing the lack of progress on Illinois energy legislation.
In spite of being the best-performing plants of Exelon, the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants have incurred a loss of total $800m over the past seven years.
The power plant in Clinton is scheduled to close on 1 June next year, while the Quad Cities power generating station in Cordova will shut on 1 June 2018.
Exelon president and CEO Chris Crane said: "This is an extremely difficult day for the 1,500 employees who operate these plants safely and reliably every day, and the communities that depend on them for support.
"We have worked for several years to find a sustainable path forward in consultation with federal regulators, market operators, state policymakers, plant community leaders, labour and business leaders, as well as environmental groups and other stakeholders. Unfortunately, legislation was not passed, and now we are forced to retire the plants."
Exelon has also made permanent shutdown notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within 30 days and has immediately taken one-time charges of $150m to $200m for this year, while accelerating about $2bn in depreciation and amortisation through the announced plant closure dates.
The Illinois nuclear plants provide 92% of the US state's carbon-free electricity.
However, shutting the plants will make it almost impossible for Illinois to reach its CO2 reduction goals, including the ones introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan.
The closure of the two plants will affect more than 200 workers, while cancelling purchases of fuel and outage planning, will impact another over 1,000 outage workers.
The two Illinois nuclear power plants help support about 4,200 direct, as well as indirect jobs, along with generating more than $1.2bn in economic activity every year.
Exelon employs about nearly 700 workers at its Clinton facility and 800 workers at Quad Cities facility, and intends to support its employees at both plants.
With staff transitions expected to occur within six months after closure, the employees will be safely operating the facilities until the shutdown dates.
Image: Clinton nuclear power station at Illinois, US. Photo: courtesy of Daniel Schwen.