Dresden Clean Energy Center

Morris, Ill.

An aerial photo of Dresden Generating Station, a nuclear power plant

  • Number of operating units: 2
  • Site net generation: 1,845 net MW
  • Customers served: About 2 million homes
  • Location: Approximately 60 miles southwest of Chicago
  • Number of Employees: 718
  • Annual Property Tax Payments: $24.5 million

Dresden Clean Energy Center, located in rural Grundy County in northern Illinois, is home to the nation’s first full-scale, privately financed nuclear power plant, which began operation in 1960.

Two of the three units at Dresden are currently in operation and can produce enough electricity to power approximately 2 million average American homes. Dresden Units 2 and 3 began commercial operation in July 1970 and November 1971, respectively. In October 2004, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed the operating licenses for both units for an additional 20 years, extending them to 2030 and 2031. Both units comprise General Electric boiling water reactors.

In 1978, Dresden Unit 1 was retired and is now designated a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society.

Most of Dresden’s 718 employees live in Grundy and Will Counties. The station’s annual payroll is about $74 million. During refueling outages, Dresden employs several hundred temporary contractors who boost the local economy during their stay.

Dresden also supports nearly 4,000 direct and secondary jobs in Illinois. The facilities’ output also stimulates Illinois’ labor income and employment.

Illinois’ nuclear facilities contribute nearly $9 billion to the state’s economy annually, with Dresden contributing $24.5 million in property taxes annually. The greatest impact in Illinois is on the professional, scientific and technical sectors due to the volume of specialized services required to operate a nuclear energy facility.


Dresden aims to be a good neighbor and is active in its surrounding communities.

  • Sponsorship: Dresden sponsors many community events, including the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce Family Fest, a day of family fun combined with a small business expo to unite area families with options around them.
    • Education: Dresden awarded $1,000 scholarships for graduating seniors at Morris and Minooka High Schools.
    • Community Development: Dresden supports the Goose Lake Prairie Partners environmental and educational efforts monetarily and physically as our neighbors.
    • Health and Human Services: Dresden financially supports the Coal City backpack program, a not for profit that sends food home in the backpacks of qualifying children who might otherwise not have food until returning to school. Employee fundraisers for this organization include a bowling for blessings in a backpack event.
  • Employee Giving & Volunteerism: Dresden employees give generously to the community through a variety of volunteer activities, including the local United Way campaign. The center also sponsors blood drives during the year, helping local hospitals.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest clean-air energy source and the only one that can produce large amounts of electricity around the clock. During 2023, Dresden generated more than 15.2 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity, which is the equivalent of removing 2.2 million average passenger vehicles from our roadways.

  • Protecting Waterways: The center assists the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with its efforts to eradicate Asian carp from the state’s rivers by allowing individuals to fish near the center's canals. 
  • Pollinators: Center employees have planted hundreds of buttermilk plants in the last year to support the native bee and butterfly populations. 
  • Tree Planting: Employees assisted with planting 100 trees in Coal City last year as an Arbor Day event designed to replace the hundreds of trees destroyed by a tornado a few years ago.

Dresden Clean Energy Center, like all U.S. nuclear energy facilities, is based on a “defense-in-depth” design, which means there are redundant layers of safety. There are multiple layers of safety systems to provide water to the reactor core. These safety systems, and their backup safety systems, are powered by multiple and redundant power sources. Nuclear energy plants are built with multiple physical barriers, including thick, steel-reinforced concrete walls around the reactor to contain radioactive materials.

Our employees are personally committed to safety. They are highly-skilled workers and continually receive training to make our safe work practices even safer. We have a culture of continuous learning and implement lessons learned from operating experience to continue to operate safe nuclear energy facilities. Each employee has 100 percent accountability. We welcome strict, daily oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). We work with the NRC to ensure that all regulations are complied with - and exceeded.

Dresden employs a sophisticated emergency response plan to protect public health and safety approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the state of Illinois. The plan includes coordination with local counties, municipalities and school districts.