Exelon promises 650 jobs and $300 million in improvements in Byron, Dresden
ROCKFORD – Exelon and the City of Byron can start planning for their future after Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the energy bill mid-September which will keep the Byron and Dresden nuclear power stations open.
Byron’s economy is heavily dependent on financial contributions from the nuclear power plant in the form of taxes and the jobs it creates, directly and indirectly, for the community.
Now that the factory will remain open for at least six years, residents of Byron can start budgeting, planning and investing knowing that the revenue from the factory is coming.
On Wednesday, the energy company said it needed to fill 650 positions between the two plants and would invest more than $300 million in improvements, including $140 million at the Byron plant over the next five years. .
When the plant’s closure was first announced in August 2020, Byron School Board President Christine Lynde helped create the Byron Station Intervention Committee. The group was made up of community members, local business owners and school district officials whose goal was to galvanize the public and pressure lawmakers to keep the plant open.
“It was really a relief,” Lynde said of the bill’s success. “There was a degree of satisfaction knowing that we had succeeded.”
If the plant closed, the Byron School District would have lost about $19 million in property tax revenue. This represents more than 70% of the school district’s annual budget.
“You can’t really plan to lose 74% of your budget like that,” Lynde said. “We just waited.”
With the factory remaining on site, the district can deal with pressing matters such as long-term budgeting and labor contracts.
“We can find long-term solutions that we’ve just put off and that’s great,” Lynde said.
Some of the improvements planned for Byron include overhauling the main generator, replacing large transformers, upgrading a fiber optic control system and replacing various pumps, motors and piping throughout the plant.
For Lynde, the $140 million investment in the Byron plant and the new jobs are signs that Exelon plans to stay in Byron.
“If Exelon is willing to invest and employ more people, that gives me confidence that they think that’s a good thing,” Lynde said.
Byron Mayor John Rickard considers this a win-win project for both the environment and the town of Byron.
“We are relieved that the plant can continue to support our community with jobs, philanthropy and tax funding for our schools and essential services while producing clean energy at a time when clean energy is more than ever needed,” Rickard said in a press release.
With the cloud of uncertainty officially behind the Byron community, Lynde said the Byron Station Response Committee will hold a celebration at 3:30 p.m. on October 9 at Byron High School Football Stadium.
“I’m super proud of our community and the response they’ve had over and over again,” Lynde said. “Now we have work ahead of us.”