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Wed Jul 29, 2015, 11:20 AM

Former Exelon CEO says Exelon should shut those reactors

Extended excerpt by permission

Former Exelon CEO says Exelon should shut those reactors

Former Exelon CEO John Rowe says things current Exelon executives would rather not hear.
Current Exelon executives put their fingers in their ears when former Exelon CEO John Rowe (above) speaks.

Exelon executives must feel like former Exelon CEO John Rowe is kind of like the crazy uncle who has to be invited to the party even though whenever he opens his mouth to speak the entire room will cringe.

The problem for Exelon is that Rowe isnít crazy, and he has been speaking out a lot, especially in the past week.

Last Friday, we linked to one interview he gave recently where he said he would have been quicker to close Exelonís uneconomic reactors than the current Exelon regimeĖwhich still hasnít closed them and is still floundering around trying to get someone, anyone, to order ratepayers to bail them out. So far, unsuccessfully.

Yesterday, E&E Publishing ran another interview with Rowe, which expands on his thoughts and surely caused unpleasant abdominal pains and teeth-gnashing in Exelonís executive suite and boardroom. You see, Rowe is one of those retired execs whose stature has only grown since he left the company and his thoughts carry weight, especially in Illinois. And heís still got some clout, perhaps more than Exelon itself these days: for example, heís actually friends with Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, unlike the current Exelon suits.

So hereís what Rowe said about Exelonís uneconomic reactors:

Iím living in a fairy world because I donít have the numbers and Iím not responsible for them anymore. But in my opinion, you shut those three plants down. You say they have become uneconomic just like some old coal plants are uneconomic. And in a world thatís driven by unfriendly market prices and unfriendly public policy, you shut them down.

He went on to say that his former colleagues at Exelon ďhave to figure this out for themselves,Ē adding:

I love nuclear power plants. For [current Exelon CEO] Chris Crane, itís his life. He would probably go further to keep a plant running than I would go. I donít believe thereís anything divine about markets, but I believe theyíre pretty importantÖ.

In some ways, I believe the only way a utility has credibility in saying that something isnít making any money is if itís actually willing to shut it down. If I were there, I think Iíd have shut the New Jersey plant [Oyster Creek] down first. Itís the oldest, itís the smallest, and it would have given credibility to what Exelon is saying about the other four. Nuclear power plants have been shut down before around the country.

As for the idea that EPAís Clean Power Plan should encourage nuclear power:

ÖI donít think itís EPAís job to encourage a new nuclear world. I think that would be one of the most expensive solutions it could pursue.

Now, before you get the idea that Rowe has become some kind of green or anti-nuclear crusader...

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