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As possible Springfield battle looms, Crain’s analysis finds Exelon nukes profitable

There’s an interesting published report on the health of ComEd-parent Exelon’s nuclear power plants as consumer advocates prepare for a possible battle with the energy giant.

Exelon has claimed that its fleet of six nuclear power plants in Illinois are struggling and the company has been laying the groundwork for a campaign in next year’s legislative session to boost plant revenue by possibly $580 million.

But now Crain’s Chicago Business has released a careful analysis that suggests the six plants (Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle, and the Quad Cities) as a whole are still profitable. Journalist Steve Daniels, one of Illinois’ best energy reporters, took the time to run his numbers by four industry analysts, all who called the Crain’s review credible.

Of course, Exelon shot back, saying the Crain’s piece “is inaccurate and overstates the fleet’s profitability.” But while the company says three of its plants–Clinton, Quad Cities and Byron–are in the red, it has refused to provide more detail.

Exelon has responded to criticism of a possible bailout by vaguely saying it wants a “market-based solution.” Consumer advocates want more details–on Exelon’s intentions and the health of its nuclear power plants.

“If it was a market solution, they probably wouldn’t need to change the law to implement it,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata told Crain’s. “The market we have is one Exelon advocated for. . . . For good public policy, they’re going to need to disclose how they’re doing. I do think it’s relevant to see how the whole fleet is doing.”