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Illinois Nuclear Plants Set Outage Performance Records While Keeping Their Workers and Communities Safe During COVID-19

Exelon’s nuclear workers and facilities live up to their essential status, refueling four reactors in record time while powering more than 11 million Illinois homes, hospitals and essential businesses


Four of Exelon Generation’s six Illinois nuclear plants safely completed refueling outages during the COVID-19 pandemic, setting new operational records at each facility. Braidwood, Byron, LaSalle and Quad Cities all delivered record outages while implementing proactive measures to keep workers safe and virus-free.

“The essential workers who operate, maintain and refuel Exelon’s Illinois nuclear stations delivered a heroic performance this spring,” said Bryan Hanson, Exelon Generation, president and chief nuclear officer. “Not only did they perform the required outage work safely and effectively, but they did it in record time while preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

Nuclear refueling outages, which are conducted every 18 to 24 months, require a minimum of 1,500 to 2,000 employees and contractors to perform the required inspections, maintenance tasks and tests. Many of the contractors are skilled craft workers from local union halls who specialize in nuclear maintenance and refueling. 

“Exelon Generation went above and beyond to protect everyone who came onsite during an outage so our workers could complete critical maintenance work,” said Terry McGoldrick, president of IBEW Local 15. “Our folks worked hard to support these essential refuelings while protecting each other and the community, and we’re proud of them.”

Exelon Generation’s average outage duration in Illinois this spring was 17 days, a full two weeks shorter than the national average. This efficiency alone generated carbon-free power for an additional 4.6 million homes, hospitals and other essential businesses during a critical time. Exelon Generation continues to make its nuclear facilities even safer, more effective and cost-efficient than ever before, reinforcing nuclear’s enormous value in Illinois. 

Each Illinois station set a plant record during this spring outage season: 

  • LaSalle had its shortest-ever refueling outage at 18 days. 
  • Quad Cities completed the site’s longest continuous run of 722 days and achieved a new station record for outage duration at 16 days.
  • Byron and Braidwood both completed their sixth consecutive continuous cycle of operations, known in the industry as a “breaker-to-breaker” run, which equates to 10 years of non-stop safe and reliable operation.

In addition to following all CDC guidelines and recommended precautions to slow the transmission of COVID-19, Exelon Generation’s nuclear plants implemented their pandemic plans and tailored them to bolster health and safety. Exelon Generation recorded only a few confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the outage season, despite the thousands of workers supporting outages. 

Each refueling site took proactive health measures, including: 

  • Pre-entry screenings and body temperature checks 
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of work areas, break rooms and lavatories
  • Social distancing, remote workers and staggered shift turnovers.

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