Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station

Quad Cities Generating Station
Location of Quad Cities Generating Station in Illinois
Country United States
Location Cordova Township, Rock Island County, near Cordova, Illinois
Coordinates 41°43′35″N 90°18′36″W / 41.72639°N 90.31000°W / 41.72639; -90.31000Coordinates: 41°43′35″N 90°18′36″W / 41.72639°N 90.31000°W / 41.72639; -90.31000
Status Operational
Commission date Unit 1: February 18, 1973
Unit 2: March 10, 1973
Construction cost $250 million
Operator(s) Exelon
Nuclear power station
Reactor type BWR-3
Reactor supplier General Electric
Power generation
Units operational 2
Nameplate capacity 1880 MW
Average generation 15443 GW·h

Quad Cities Generating Station is a two-unit nuclear power plant located near Cordova, Illinois, USA on the Mississippi River. The two General Electric boiling water reactors give the plant a total gross electric capacity of approximately 1,880 MW. It was named for the nearby cities of Moline, Illinois, Rock Island, Illinois, Davenport, Iowa, East Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf, Iowa — known as the Quad Cities.

The Quad Cities plant is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. In 2004, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a 20-year license extension for both reactors at this plant. Citing the plant's ongoing string of financial losses, Exelon has considered shutting down the facility by 2018.[1]

On June 2, 2016, Exelon announced its intentions to close Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station on June 1, 2018 due to the plant's profitability and a lack of support from the Illinois state legislature.[2]

Extended power uprate

During an extended power uprate test on March 5, 2002 (designed to extend the power efficiency of existing BWR reactors), Quad Cities Unit 2 began to experience vibrations in a steam line. On March 29 the plant was manually shut down due to high vibrations causing leaks in the main turbine control system. Unit 2 was restarted on April 2, but vibration broke a main steam pipe drain line. The line was repaired and the restart resumed, but by June 7 the main steam lines were showing unexplained aberrations. The plant was again taken offline for repairs on July 11, and the problem was traced to a hole in the steam dryer. The steam dryer was repaired and Unit 2 was restarted on July 21, 2002. The incident did not result in any increased probability of an accident. The NRC inspected all repairs and the extended power uprate was completed successfully.[3]

Unit 1
Nuclear system supplied by General Electric Company (U.S.)
Net MW(e)
in 2003
Type On-line
Expiration Date
934 5,709,520 90.6% BWR-3 Dec. 14, 1972 Dec. 14, 2032
Unit 2
Nuclear system supplied by General Electric Company (U.S.)
Net MW(e)
in 2003
Type On-line
Expiration Date
937 6,956,073 92.7% BWR-3 Dec. 14, 1972 Dec. 14, 2032

2015 net generation was 15.5 million MWh, and the capacity factor was 95.0%. This equates to roughly 1.2 million homes.[4]

Surrounding population

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[5]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Quad Cities was 34,350, a decrease of 0.5 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for msnbc.com. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 655,207, a decrease of 0.3 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Moline (19 miles to city center).[6]

Exelon's cost disclosure

In 2015, Exelon Executive Vice President stated that its five Illinois dual-unit power plants have costs roughly $33/MW·h to $34/MW·h of electricity produced. And that its Clinton single-unit power plant costs roughly $38/MW·h to $39/MW·h. These costs consist of labor, scheduled and outages maintenance (including provisions for unanticipated outages), nuclear fuel, capital spending, corporate costs (like legal and human resources), the property taxes paid to host communities.

On the other side, revenues come from the energy prices paid by utility customers and businesses and capacity charges covered by all consumers. For 2016 and 2017 energy prices were set in 2015 around $30.50/MW·h (about $33/MW·h in 2014). The 21 August 2015 announced capacity price, set via a auction conducted yearly by PJM Interconnection (the power-grid administrator covering northern Illinois), for the year beginning 1 June 2018, was $215 per megawatt-day, that divided for 24 hours, translates to $8,96/MW·h. Adding those revenues yields slightly less than $39.50/MW·h, beginning in mid-2018.

In that auction, Quad Cities did not qualify for the capacity charges, having bid too high, so it will get only the energy price, $30.50/MW·h.

More, each power plant has to pay congestion costs, to move its energy on the power grid. Some plants have around $1/MW·h to $2,50/MW·h of such costs. Quad Cities is projected to pay $9.60/MW·h in 2015. Putting all together, Exelon expects to get revenue around $22.50/MW·h in 2017, so Quad Cities will lose $11/MW·h. Given an annual generation of 15,44 million MW·h, it sums to $170 million of losses.

But Quad Cities could be relieved of some of the congestion costs in 2017. Grand Prairie Gateway, a new transmission line, is under construction by Commonwealth Edison, the largest Illinois electric utility. Once completed, it will relieve power-grid congestion for both Quad Cities and Byron, another Exelon power plant. Taking away congestion costs, Quad Cities losses may be reduced to around $70 million in 2017.[7]

In 2016, Exelon distributed charts showing it's nuclear plants earning revenue of $19,40/MW·h from Quad Cities to $27,80/MW·h from Dresden. Other values shown were: Braidwood $26.1, Byron $22.2, Le Salle $26.5 and Clinton $22.6.

In 2016, Exelon also got a $5.60/MW·h additional revenue following agreements for high-demand periods delivery and in investor presentations, Exelon stated that about 90% of 2016 revenues are locked at more than $34/MW·h. Summing all together, it appears that almost all Exelon power plants, except Clinton, would break-even at $35/MW·h.[8]

Seismic risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Quad Cities was 1 in 37,037, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[9][10]


  1. "Exelon says Cordova nuclear power plant may close in two years". www.qconline.com. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  2. staff, Times online. "Exelon begins steps to shut down nuclear plant in Cordova". The Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  3. NRC: Document SECY-01-0124 - Power Uprate Application Reviews (PDF). Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 9 July 2001. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  4. "Quad Cities Generating Station" (PDF). www.exeloncorp.com. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  5. NRC: Backgrounder on Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Power Plants Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  6. "Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors" Bill Dedman. msnbc.com. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  7. Daniels, Steve (22 August 2015). "Exelon's case for how poorly its nukes are doing". www.chicagobusiness.com. Crain Communication, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  8. Daniels, Steve (30 April 2016). "Exelon tells Wall St. one thing about profits while peddling a different tale in Springfield". www.chicagobusiness.com. Crain Communication, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  9. "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk" Bill Dedman. msnbc.com. 17 March 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  10. Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research: Generic Issue 199 (GI-199) - Implications of updated probabilistic seismic hazard estimates in central and eastern United States on existing plants - Safety/Risk Assessment (PDF) - August 2010. msnbc.com. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
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