MORRIS — The closing of Dresden Generating Station, announced by Exelon on Thursday morning, will have a significant economic impact on Grundy County.
According to Nancy Norton, President & CEO of Grundy County Economic Development, the station employs 800 people and supports an additional 865 indirect jobs.
"These are high paying jobs as demonstrated by their payroll of $104 million which includes wages and benefits. Further, the impact to local taxing districts is very significant."
Norton also said that the GEDC is part of a coalition of public and private sectior leaders focused on keeping the plant open.
"These last three years, we’ve made multiple visits to Springfield, hired additional consultants, and commissioned with Northern Illinois University to conduct an impact study.
"At this stage, it is unclear if Exelon will keep the plant open if they are successful in getting their legislative agenda passed this fall. The GEDC will continue to work non-stop in advocating for nuclear energy with the Governor’s office and state legislators in an effort to keep the Dresden Station viable. At the same time, the coalition will work to mitigate the negative impacts to our community should Dresden Station close."
According to the impact study, every 100 jobs at Dresden supports another 107 jobs in other industries, and that Dresden's jobs represent 6.7% of the Grundy County workforce. Losing those jobs would triple unemployment in the county, which currently has 867 unemployed persons as of the July study.
The study defines indirect employment as impact of the Dresden Generating Station's suppliers and vendors, and induced employment as impact of Dresden Generating Station employees' spending on the Grundy County economy.
Industries that will experience the greatest indirect employment impacts are maintenance and construction; misc. professional, scientific and technical services; restaurants; and employment, accounting, real estate, and legal services. Industries that experience the greatest induced employment impacts are hospitals, restaurants, real estate, and retail, including food and beverage.
The study also stated that Dresden Generating Station’s direct contribution to the Grundy County economy (GDP) is estimated to be over $286 million, or 9.2% of the total GDP of the County, which is estimated at $3.1 billion. Dresden Generating Station’s total contribution to the Grundy County economy (GDP) is estimated to be over $357 million, or 11.5% of the total GDP of the County.
Dresden pays just over $24 million in property taxes each year, with just over $3.5 million going to Grundy County.
"If Dresden closes, we would have to try and make up that shortfall somehow," Grundy County Board Chairman Chris Balkema said. "If we couldn't, then we would have to reduce some of our services."
The largest beneficiary of Dresden's property taxes is Coal City Community Unit School District #1, which receives about $16 million annually.
Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg released the following statement.
"Although our school district has been discussing this possibility for the past few years, hearing the actual announcement was a devastating blow. The property tax revenue generated from the Dresden Station accounts for about $16 million per year, which is a little less than 50% of our current operating budget.
"I have already spoken with Senator Rezin and Representative Welter, and they are hopeful that if favorable energy legislation is passed during the upcoming Veto Session or even during the Spring, 2021 legislative session that the Dresden Station could still be saved. However, absent this legislative help, the Dresden Station is scheduled to close on November 21, 2021.
"I have been working with an active local coalition for the past three years with the purpose of promoting legislation to save the nuclear power stations in our state. I am hopeful our legislators understand that the closure of the Dresden Station reaches far beyond property tax revenue to the school district. The impact on fire protection services, library services, Joliet Junior College, and County government are huge.
"Our school district obviously has a lot of work ahead of us as we plan for the potential of life without Dresden. In the meantime, I will also continue working tirelessly with local and state government officials to advocate for the importance of the Dresden Station not only to our school district, but it's importance to the economic vitality of our entire community and county.
"I know everyone has a lot on their plate right now, but I didn't want anyone reading this announcement in the media without hearing from me first. Right now we have to keep the faith and hope that the decision-makers in Springfield do what's right for all of us in the Coal City School District Community and all of Grundy County."