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Cordova nuclear plant in jeopardy after unsuccessful energy auction

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The threat of closure is looming for the Quad Cities' nuclear power plant.

On Monday, August, 24, 2015, Exelon announced that the Quad Cities plant did not clear the PJM capacity auction for 2018-2019. During the annual auction, energy companies bid to supply power to a major grid that covers 13 states.

"Certainly we would have liked to have been included in the auction, there's no doubt about that. We wish our megawatts were selected," said Bill Stoermer, communications manager for the Quad Cities Generating Station.

Because it did not clear the auction, Stoermer said the plant will have to sell its electricity on the open market, making it harder to plan for the future.

The plant in Cordova, Illinois, is one of three that Exelon has threatened to close due to financial losses.

Now, Exelon officials are pushing Illinois lawmakers harder than ever, saying they need to pass the Low Carbon Portfolio Standard. The bill would give Exelon a boost by adding about $2 each month to homeowners’ utility bills.

"We're asking the employees to reach out to their legislators, reach out to their neighbors, reach out to people and make sure that they're aware of what the consequences could be. We're ready to go to battle and do whatever we need to do to keep this plant open until 2032," said Stoermer.

Environmental groups, though, say the possible shutdown is an unnecessary threat.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is backing the Illinois Clean Jobs bill, a different piece of energy reform legislation that they say doesn't include a "$300 million bailout for Exelon."

"We find that incredibly unnecessary given the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that Exelon is going to take in," said Billy Weinberg.

Exelon leaders said they have to look at each plant individually, even as the company overall continues to do well.

"While the company overall may continue to make a profit and may make a profit out of this auction, Quad Cities was not selected, so that automatically puts us at a very tight spot," said Stoermer.

Monday, the nearly 800 employees in Cordova were told to continue to focus on safety and day-to-day operations.

Stoermer said Exelon must decide by the end of September whether or not it will bid the Quad Cities plant into the next auction. However, the company could still reverse any decision to shutdown through the first quarter of 2016.