Exelon Communications representative unable to provide information to prove the claim that economics was the reason for The Zion Station shutdown in 1998 and for its continued shutdown

January 20, 2011

In a previous post I spoke about a meeting with the Senior Communications person at Exelon Corporation who initiated the meeting to talk about The Zion Station.

Following is an e-mail exchange between Mr. Lopylinski and myself after the meeting on Thursday, January 13


Thanks for sending me your write-up.

In response to your questions, I did check on providing the details about our restart analysis. We cannot provide this information, as it is confidential business information.

Also, for your question about selling Zion at this point, as I mentioned it’s purely hypothetical.  We sold the plant to EnergySolutions, and we retained ownership of the land. So any potential buyer would first need to approach EnergySolutions and then us.  As I said during our meeting, why would anyone want to pay that kind of money for a nonfunctioning, inoperable nuclear plant when they could buy a perfectly good one in operating condition and with a longer lifespan for significantly less money? 

You mentioned in your write-up that Exelon transferred the facility “to Energy Solutions for shutdown.” It was actually transferred for decommissioning because, as you know, it was already shut down. 

As for the powerhouse education center, it was closed in 1998 along with the plant. We did try to rent or give it to other organizations. However, the property taxes and utility expenses were so prohibitive that nobody wanted it – even for free.

You also mentioned the market in your write-up below. As I said during our discussion, there was no electricity market at the time the plant was closed. What I should have added, which may have helped, was that any electricity we produced in the 90’s went directly to Illinois customers because there was no market and electric rates were set by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The shutdown of the plant had no impact on the price at which other generating plants could sell their output in Illinois. The Illinois regulatory structure shifted to market pricing for electricity in 2007. Exelon’s decision to decommission Zion had no impact on the market price of electricity in Illinois.

Exelon could not spend any amount of money to restart the plant without a reliable forecast that costs would be recovered through the sale of electricity over the expected remaining life of the plant.

You misunderstood my point about the condition of Zion since its shut down in 1998. The plant has been maintained in accordance with NRC standards for a permanently shutdown unit—not an operating plant.

The original decommissioning timeline for Zion was that decommissioning would start in 2020. In any case, it needed to be complete by 2058.

On reprocessing, I said it was a political issue, not a technical one. As you know, reprocessing takes place elsewhere in the world, just not in the US. It was made illegal during the Carter administration by a presidential order that was later rescinded. Reprocessing is a national policy issue that remains unsettled. Here’s a report that you might find helpful.

The above answers should close out the questions you had on Zion.

I really enjoyed our discussion last week, and thanks again for sending the write-up.

Take care,


Krista Lopykinski
Exelon Nuclear 
Sr. Manager, Midwest Communications
630.657.3602 office
630.278.9613 cell

Dear Krista,

 First of all, Krista, many thanks for your attachment of a DOE Report to Congress on Oct. 1999m A Road Map for Developing Acceleration Transmutation of Waste (ATW) Technology.

Although you suggested that your written answers to my Zion questions should be sufficient to satisfy all my previous questions about The Zion Station, I am not in agreement.

Exelon Corporation’s inability to provide details about its three restart analysis, with confidentiality given as the reason, raises red flags with me.  Over the years Exelon has time and again stated economics as the reason Zion could not restarted.  If Exelon has nothing to hide, why not release the restart analysis? Without providing at least the 2002 and 2007 analyses Exelon has really provided no meaningful data to answer the questions I have asked.  This is even more disconcerting since Rod Adams claims in his Blog to have spoken to an Exelon insider who said Exelon’s main reason for keeping the plant closed was because the added supply would have reduced customer’s prices and Exelon’s profits on its other nuclear plants.  Your statements seem to be at odds with those statement and the only way to get ot the bottom of it is to examine the actual analysis that was done.

The public certainly has a right to see the analysis upon which decisions were made by Exelon not to restart Zion — at least in 2002 and 7007 when prices were sky high.  As rate payers paid for the building of the dual Zion Plant and for its billion dollar decommissioning fund, they now have the right to know whether or not The Zion Plant was being kept closed in order to keep their electric prices higher, thereby being deprived entirely of the value of the plants which they were forced to pay for.  Rate payers certainly didn’t get their money’s worth, and now rate payers are to believe that both the monies invested in the plant’s construction and its massive power source, having lost all value, must be wasted.

Regarding the plant’s decommissioning, Krista, is Exelon or another entity keeping tabs on how Energy Solutions plans to spend its $1 billion decommissioning fund?  Please note, Krista, that dismantling costs have gone down considerably with new technology to reduce costs.


About your response to what you called a hypothetical question, would it be right to conclude that Exelon Corporation would not stand in the way if a responsible buyer were to approach Energy Solutions to buy the plant and the NRC approved of the sale? 

I was puzzled, Krista, when you spoke of perfectly good comparable nuclear plants being available for purchase by an interested party at a substantially lower price per megawatt hour, rather than consideration of a non-functioning, inoperable nuclear plant such like Zion.  Just where are these plants located in the U.S., Krista?  Could you identify them by name.  I am not aware of any and would be surprised if there are any, but I am always looking to be educated.

It was also a pleasure meeting you, Krista.  I likewise enjoyed our discussion.

I hope you won’t think unkindly of me with this further questioning.   My passion for saving The Zion Station remains as strong as ever.





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