MORRIS – Operators at Dresden Generating Station removed Unit 3 from service shortly after midnight Monday morning to begin a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.
The outage follows a strong summer run, during which Dresden operated at greater than 97 percent capacity during June, July and August.
More than 1,500 additional workers will join the facility’s 800-plus permanent employees, providing a boost to the local economy.
Many area hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other merchants in Grundy and Will counties see an increase in activity during the station’s refueling outages.
“Area retailers, their employees and others in the communities around the station all benefit from the influx of additional workers during the refueling outages,” Grundy County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christina Van Yperen said in a news release. “Dresden has a tremendous impact – not only in terms of economic impact, but in generating clean, reliable electricity for those who live and work in our area.”
Workers at Dresden will replace about one-third of the Unit 3 reactor’s fuel. They will also perform more than 8,000 inspections, maintenance activities and other work that cannot be done while the unit is operating.
This includes performing upgrades to safety system control components that will improve reliability, and making enhancements to the turbine control systems to improve performance of its pumps and valves.
All the activities aim to ensure the unit’s safe and reliable operation during its next two-year operating cycle and beyond.
“Protecting the health and safety of the public and our workers is always our top priority, Dresden Site Vice President Pete Karaba said in a news release. “The highly skilled professionals joining us for this refueling outage all share our commitment to Dresden’s vision of being the best nuclear plant in the world through safe and error-free operation.”
Nearly half of the state’s electricity is generated by Exelon’s six Illinois nuclear energy facilities. Dresden Generating Station is approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago.
The station’s two nuclear energy units can produce a total of more than 1,800 megawatts at full power – enough carbon-free electricity to power more than 1.2 million typical homes.
Dresden Unit 1, which began operation in 1960 and was retired in 1978, has been designated a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.