Ten of the fleet’s 11 reactors ran at nearly 100 percent output levels throughout the week

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Image: The Exelon-operated Clinton nuclear generating station in Illinois, US. Photo: courtesy of Daniel Schwen/Wikipedia.

While temperatures plunged to record-breaking lows during an unusual November cold snap early this week, Exelon Generation’s six Illinois nuclear plants operated at full power, producing enough power to keep 11 million homes and businesses safe and warm. Ten of the fleet’s 11 reactors ran at nearly 100 percent output levels throughout the week, providing schools, hospitals, businesses and residences the reliable, carbon-free electricity needed to keep heaters running. Dresden Station Unit 2 is currently shut down for a refueling outage.

“Even during this unseasonably cold weather, our Illinois fleet’s performance further demonstrates the reliability and resiliency of nuclear power in any kind of weather,” said Exelon’s Chief Nuclear Officer Bryan Hanson. “We are dedicated to being online when customers need us most, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us at any time of year.”

Exelon Generation’s Illinois nuclear fleet has proven its mettle time and again during Midwest deep freezes. Throughout record deep freezes earlier this year, the Illinois nuclear fleet operated at 100 percent around the clock. A year prior, the fleet recorded a near-perfect reliability rate, operating 97.6 percent of the time. And during the 2014 Polar Vortex, the plants were critical to meeting electricity demand, as coal piles froze and natural gas supplies were re-routed for home heating.

Winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and spare equipment is ready for inclement weather. This fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation facilities for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions and heavy snowfall. These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and “winter readiness” maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.