Monday, September 30, 2013

Nuclear Costs; Dangers

High Repair Costs and Lower Power Prices Drive Nuclear Retirements:
U.S. Energy Information Administration, September 23, 2013
Since October 2012, electric power companies have announced the retirement of five nuclear reactors at four power plants. The five reactors have a combined capacity of nearly 4,200 megawatts. The recent retirements are the first since 1998. Decisions to retire the units involved concerns over maintenance and repair costs and declining profitability. Units that operated as merchant generators, meaning that the costs associated with running and maintaining the plants cannot be recovered through regulated cost-of-service rates, have been particularly sensitive to declining profitability. Low wholesale electricity prices, driven in part by lower natural gas prices, have been cited more often in the retirement decisions of these plants while repair costs have been drivers of retirements at nuclear power plants owned by utilities. The recent reactor retirements will decrease the total number of operating nuclear reactors to 99 and will reduce total U.S nuclear net summer capacity by almost 4%.


More Than 36 GW of U.S. Nuclear Capacity in Hurricane Zones:
Power Engineering, September 23, 2013
A report from SNL Energy says that 36,471 MW of nuclear capacity could be at risk from hurricanes in the continental United States. The report uses hurricane hazard zones defined by the American Red Cross stretching from Maine and down the coast to Texas. The report says two nuclear plants are at the highest risk due to proximity to hurricane zones: the 2,032 MW St. Lucie plant in Florida, which is majority owned by NextEra Energy Inc. and the 1,928 MW Brunhswick plant in North Carolina, owned by Duke Energy.

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