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Exelon Will Close Two Nuclear Units, Cites Failure to Pass Zero-Carbon Legislation

It wasn’t unexpected but it is still a bit shocking: Exelon Corp. will shut down two of its merchant nuclear plants: Clinton and Quad Cities, which compete on the open market with other generators and which have found it difficult to compete against inexpensive natural gas. The utility has also complained about subsidized wind power.

What the Chicago-based had wanted to avoid such a closure is for the state legislature there to pass the so-called Zero Emission Standard that would compensate utilities that produce power with no carbon emissions. But legislators there ended their session this week without passing the bill, which Exelon said will force its hand; the collectively, the two plants have lost $800 million over the last seven years.

Clinton will shut down in one year and Quad Cities in two years.

“The capacity market alone can’t preserve zero-carbon emitting nuclear plants that are facing the lowest wholesale energy prices in 15 years,” says Chief Executive Chris Crane, in a statement. While it is too late to save Clinton and Quad Cities, Exelon is still committed to getting the legislation ultimately passed as a way to preserve other merchant nuclear units it owns.

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