Last week, the Byron Board of Education convened the second meeting of the Byron Station Response Committee (BSRC) to discuss the newly released "Economic Impact Analysis," authored by Northern Illinois University's Brian Harger (you can read the full report here -https://saveilnuclearpower.com/economic-impact-studies). The report utilizes a popular statistical model to review inputted data in order to estimate the impact shuttering the Byron Station would have on the region’s economies. At the end of August, Exelon announced its intent to close the Byron Station in the Fall of 2021.
According to the report, the direct, indirect, and induced impacts -- all added together -- would result in the loss of over 2,300 jobs, totaling more than $1 billion in output, $487 million loss in value-added, and the elimination of over $180 million in employee compensation. Because every 100 jobs at the Byron Generating Station supports 221 jobs in other sectors, these losses would be felt across multiple industries: from electric power transmission and real estate, to hospitals and general merchandise stores.
"Quite simply, the impact would be enormous, rippling across this whole area," said Superintendent Buster Barton, who led the committee through a review of the report. As an example, Supt. Barton pointed out that regarding the value-added impacts, the study estimates that Byron Station's total contribution to the Ogle County Economy is estimated to be $338 million, or 17% of the GDP of Ogle County. In addition, the same figure for the GDP of the tri-county region is estimated at $487 million, or 2.6%.
"The closure of the Byron Station would have a huge impact not only on Byron, but on the region as a whole," Ogle County Board Member Zach Oltmanns, explained. "The study shows that 75% of the 717 employees of the plant live within Ogle, Winnebago, and Lee counties; so you can image the impact that kind of loss would have."
Recognizing that the best hope to forestalling the closure of Byron Station will likely be in the form of state-wide energy legislation, the committee also focused on their Communication and Outreach Plan. School Board President, Christine Lynde, rolled out the framework for this saying, "It is essentially a three-fold plan to reach people through print, digital technology, and human interaction." As a result, the committee will be working in smaller teams to coordinate yard signs, newspaper editorials, social media channels, legislative communication efforts, and website updates, as well as leveraging community and advocacy group outreach and ensuring the media is kept up to speed. "We are always looking for volunteers, so if anyone would like to contribute in any way -- and there are many different roles we will need filled - we can use their help."
In the coming months, the BSRC plans to tap into their volunteer base in order to continue to engage and update the public on why it is so important to keep the Byron Station operational, and enlist them in a grass roots effort that will effectively postpone its closure. "We will need an all-hands-on-deck approach as the process of saving the plant moves from Ogle County to our elected leaders in Springfield," Oltmanns noted. The group believes the project will likely last into the next spring's legislative session, and so anyone interested in pitching in is encouraged to sign up at the group's website, www.saveilnuclearpower.com.