BYRON – The Byron Board of Education recently convened the initial meeting of the "Byron Station Response Committee," to develop a collaborative, broad-based response to Exelon's announcement of its intent to close Byron Station in September 2021.
Byron's Superintendent, Buster Barton, said the impetus to form the group came from the community itself. The day Exelon announced the potential closing, numerous community members and organizations reached out to him to offer their support.
“It just goes to show you how much our community cares about our school district and how important the power plant is to our funding,” Barton said. “We think this committee will help identify and mobilize groups that can spread our message that the power plant should be kept open.”
"And really, the focus should be on this entire area – all of Northern Illinois," said School Board President Christine Lynde. "Beyond being a great source of reliable clean energy, Byron Station has a very big footprint in this region – the tax revenue supports not only the Byron School District but eleven additional taxing bodies; our fire district, library, museum, forest preserve, even Rock Valley College to name a handful.
“The people who work at the plant have homes in Ogle, Boone, Winnebago, Lee and DeKalb counties and there are so many businesses in and around Byron that serve the plant. The impact is a lot larger than you might initially think."
The group is aware that the solution will involve legislative action, and so will require broad-based support and far-reaching plans until the end of the legislative session in May 2021.
“We need to start small in our own local communities to share information, and build an understanding to extend our network and message to the surrounding communities, and indeed all of Illinois, said Byron Mayor John Rickard.
The group identified key stakeholders, worked to craft messages, and developed a rough timeline for people to engage with the cause.
“It’s important to get out a consistent, accurate message,” Barton said. “And so we’ll use this time, until the veto session in November, to educate supporters so when the time comes to mobilize, everyone knows how to contact their legislators.”
It is the group’s hope that when the spring legislative session begins, there will be a bill prepared to save Illinois nuclear power that can prevent Byron Station from closing and support clean, reliable energy in the state.
“It is going to take dedication and stamina, and a bit of patience in order to bring this to the finish line successfully,” Lynde said.
The group is asking the community to look for their Facebook Page (still under development) for more announcements and next steps. In the meantime, anyone who is interested in supporting the Byron Station Response Committee’s goals should contact Barton.