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Clinton nuclear reactor running a year after closing threat

The Clinton Power Station

Last summer, Exelon Corp. threatened to close the Clinton Power Station this month and the Quad Cities station in June 2018. | AP file photo

CLINTON — A nuclear reactor in central Illinois has begun operating again just over a year after the plant owner warned it would shut down this month if financial losses continued.

In between, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation providing $235 million in ratepayer subsidies annually to Exelon Corp. to keep running the Clinton Power Station and a power station in the Quad Cities for at least another 10 years, The State Journal-Register reported.

“Our employees, families and neighbors are very thankful to Illinois legislative leaders for enacting legislation that recognizes the significant environmental and economic benefits of nuclear power in our state,” Ted Stoner, vice president of the Clinton site, said in an announcement of the return to full power.

Last summer, Exelon threatened to close the Clinton power station this month and the Quad Cities station in June 2018, claiming losses of $800 million on the plants in seven years.

Company executives said the plants deserved energy subsidies similar to solar, wind and other carbon-free sources of power, but opponents argued the subsidies amounted to a ratepayer bailout of the aging reactors.

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The Clinton plant had been offline since May 8 for refueling. Company officials said work included inspections, maintenance, modifications and replacing nearly one-third of the reactor fuel.

The company added about 1,500 employees to the regular workforce of 700 for the upgrades.

“The vast majority of work is complete, and can only be performed when the unit is not online producing electricity,” said Brett Nauman, a spokesman for Exelon.

Company officials said the Clinton Power Station produces enough electricity to power 1 million homes.