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Exelon seeks right to export nuclear power from PJM into MISO

Exelon Corp. has asked FERC to allow it to sell some of the power from its Byron nuclear power plant, located outside of Chicago, into markets operated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.

On Feb. 22, Exelon and MISO filed a network resource interconnection service for an external generating facility agreement to be valid for five years and cover 2,300 MW of the approximately 2,346-MW nuclear plant's capacity. The deal was struck Feb. 6 between Exelon and MISO.

Even if FERC gives Exelon the right to export into MISO, whether Exelon will actually do so is uncertain given that the Byron nuclear plant is located in PJM Interconnection's market and is committed to supply power to PJM's market from June 1 through May 2019.

"We operate in a competitive environment that calls on us to make sure customers have access to reliable, zero-carbon nuclear power by maximizing value at Byron and that benefits customers by enabling the movement of energy among regional transmission organizations such as MISO and PJM to where it is needed and is most valued by consumers," said Paul Adams, a spokesman with Exelon, in an email.

Byron was originally identified by Exelon as one of three Illinois nuclear power plants at risk of early closures due to low electricity prices. The other two nuclear plants, Clinton Power Station and Quad Cities, are respectively located in MISO and PJM and are the sole beneficiaries of Illinois' nuclear subsidy that was signed into state law in December 2016.

Illinois' nuclear subsidy compensates the two uneconomic nuclear plants about $235 million annually over 10 years for their emission-free generation through a zero-emissions credit initiative similar to New York's subsidy. The out-of-market program was prompted by Exelon's threat to retire the plants after Quad Cities failed to clear PJM's base residual auction for 2019-2020, and Clinton's successful clearing of MISO's 2016-2017 primary reliability auction was at an insufficient price to keep the plant open.

Expounding on speculation that Exelon intends to sell into the MISO market, Dave Lundy, director of the BEST Coalition, which was formed by various groups opposed to the nuclear subsidy, criticized the move.

"This confirms that Exelon was wildly disingenuous with the general assembly when it sold its multi-billion dollar bailout on the premise that if Illinois lost power from Clinton or Quad Cities, prices would soar," said Lundy in an email. "But now we suddenly have enough excess that they can export the massive Byron plant from PJM without issue? Exelon clearly knew this was coming and didn't feel it was necessary to share that information with legislators or the governor's office." (FERC docket ER17-1013)