The latest on nuclear power bans: Illinois poised to take an important step

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The Illinois nuclear construction ban will soon be a thing of the past.

Earlier this year, both state chambers, through a supermajority vote, passed a bill to remove Illinois’s ban on new nuclear power plants. The bill would have allowed for all advanced reactor designs to be built in the state, including larger reactors. 

The bill was ultimately vetoed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Although lawmakers didn’t overturn the veto during the veto session this fall, the bill sponsor, State Sen. Sue Rezin (R) put forward a new, less expansive version of the vetoed bill .

This new version of the bill allows for the construction of small modular reactors up to 300 megawatts, starting in 2026. However, it excludes larger reactors, over 300 megawatts.

During the veto session, this new bill successfully passed out of both chambers with supermajority votes, and Pritzker said that he will sign it into law.

This nuclear news out of Illinois matches a broader national trend in recent years. States have been either eliminating their bans on new nuclear entirely, or limiting the scope of those bans. These state policy changes on nuclear power will allow developers to have a wider range of options to provide baseload power to the electric grid. Nuclear power has numerous benefits for the grid, especially in terms of energy density and reliability. This is especially true in Illinois which uses more nuclear power than any other state. 

Although the initially vetoed bill would have been better for state energy production, as it would have allowed for the construction of all advanced reactor designs, this newly passed bill still opens up the opportunity to improve nuclear energy production in the state. 

It’s a step in the right direction.