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Illinois Lifts Three-Decade Moratorium on Nuclear Reactors, Paving the Way for Small Modular Reactors

by Anna

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois has signed legislation ending a three-decade moratorium on the development of nuclear reactors in the state. The new law, effective from January 2026, permits the construction of smaller nuclear reactors producing less than 300 megawatts of power. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Sen. Sue Rezin, emphasizes the importance of nuclear power in the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

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Rezin highlighted Illinois’ successful and safe history of nuclear energy generation, stating that lifting the moratorium would enable the state to leverage advancements in new nuclear energy technology. The focus is on the potential success of small modular reactors, designed to power single large facilities.

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Despite a recent setback with the cancellation of a small modular reactor project by NuScale, the sponsors express confidence in ongoing research and development to address any weaknesses in such proposals. The new legislation, similar to a previous version vetoed by Governor Pritzker, incorporates a study on the risks of new nuclear technology and assigns state agencies oversight responsibilities.

While environmentalists argue that wind and solar power are sufficient alternatives to fossil fuels, proponents of the law underscore the necessity of nuclear energy, especially in the context of the state’s plan to close coal-fired power plants by 2045. The plan relies on state subsidies to sustain two economically unviable nuclear plants for meeting energy needs.

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