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Clinton Nuclear Power Plant Faces an Uncertain Future

Updated: Tuesday, February 11 2014, 09:44 AM CST

A major employer in central Illinois says its business outlook is pretty grim. Exelon, which owns the power plant in Clinton, blames federal regulations for a hit to nuclear power profits. Company officials say that drop in revenue brings an uncertain future for some nuclear power plants including the one in DeWitt County.

We spoke with residents of DeWitt County about what an early closure would mean the community.

“There are about 700 employees and a lot of them live in DeWitt County or surrounding region. They spend their tax money here; they buy things in the county. And I have quite a few friends out there so it would be stressful for all of us," Ruth Stauffer with the DeWitt County Development Council said.

The DCDC is looking at ways to lure in other companies, so there would be another major employer to absorb some of the job loss, if Exelon does decide to close the plant ahead of schedule. The plant supplies jobs to surrounding counties as well. That includes Macon County, which already has the highest unemployment in the state. Stauffer says the loss to central Illinois extends much further than just jobs.

"Exelon employees have been incredible volunteers in DeWitt County donating funds and time," Stauffer said.

Other businesses in Clinton would also feel the loss, if suddenly 700 fewer people had disposable income. The owner of Ted's Garage, a popular Clinton restaurant, says about 10 percent of his business is just power plant employees on lunch, and the last time a major employer left, the whole town suffered.

"When they close you can see the difference in the town. The economy was just down. And when that other factory closed, you can see it. It affects everybody," Delfino Maxi said.

Bill Harris, communications manager for the Clinton power plant, says Exelon has made no plans to close early, but notes profits are down and like any business Exelon is always looking at the long term sustainability of the plant.

Every year Exelon holds a meeting with the DeWitt County community to discuss its future in the area. This year's meeting is coming up on February 21st.

Clinton Nuclear Power Plant Faces an Uncertain Future

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