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Byron leaders and residents anxiously await final vote on nuclear plant

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BYRON PLANT

Byron (WREX) — For now, all Byron leaders and residents can do is wait.

"It brings a good deal of anxiety. one because we have no control over this process," says Byron Mayor John Rickard. "We are simply almost pawns in a chest game between the state and Exelon."

The Illinois General Assembly had plans to pass a bill before lawmakers left at the end of May, but that never happened. Exelon said it needed a bill by the end of the session to help it pay for a keep the Byron plant open.

"It's not just the Forest Preserve, it's the schools, it's all the townspeople, it's all the businesses," says Byron Forest Preserve District Executive Director Todd Tucker.

Tucker says the tax base the plant provides is irreplaceable.

"For us, it's 75% of our total EAV. So all our eggs are in one basket."

Which is why Tucker says this vote won't just impact the plant and it's workers, but everyone who calls Byron and the surrounding region home.

"So obviously what Springfield has to say or do will impact all of our lives," says Tucker. "Not just Byron, but the county itself. The county all the way to Rockford."

And while there's no definite answer from Springfield just yet, Rickard is encouraged by what he's seen and heard from legislators thus far. He's hopeful those predictions will become reality next week.

"I hope this is a step toward a comprehensive energy plan that stabilizes the state, stabilizes clean energy, stabilizes our communities for years to come." says Rickard.

The Illinois Senate is expected to take up the measure on Tuesday, with the house following on Wednesday.

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