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Move to save nuclear plant

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, has created a website dedicated to helping save the Byron Nuclear Power Plant, which, if shuttered, would cost the area 727 jobs and $38 million in annual tax revenue.

“The Byron Generating Station is an important cornerstone of the Ogle County economy,” Demmer said. “Not only is the plant home to hundreds of good-paying jobs, it also pays more than $30 million to support schools, public safety and local governments.”

A third of Ogle County’s tax revenue comes from Exelon Generator’s Byron plant and in addition to its regular employees, the company hires about 1,200 contractors every 18 months when one of the Byron units goes offline for refueling and maintenance.

In August, the company announced plans to close the Byron plant in September 2021, the Dresden plant in Morris that November, and said that the La Salle and Braidwood nuclear stations also were at high risk for premature closure.

The plant was licensed for 20 more years but Exelon faces revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and market rules that “allow fossil fuel plants to underbid clean resources,” the company said in a news release announcing the decision.

Exelon, which has threatened several times in recent years to close some of its nuclear plants, said it would continue talks with policymakers on ways to prevent the closures. It pays one of the nation’s highest property tax bills and accounts for most of the county’s nonagricultural economy.

Demmer partnered with Byron-based Wave Marketing after the announcement to create and is asking community members “to join their voices to the chorus of local leaders calling for action to prevent the closure of the facility next year.”

The website includes a “Take Action” section with contact information for the governor’s office, as well as the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee.

“I’m working with my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle to try to keep the plant open. This website is a way for the community to find updates, share their comments, and understand how the plant affects our entire area – not only those directly employed there,” Demmer said.