In an article appearing Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Smith wrote:
“… today, U.S. utilities are encountering something they never expected: Some natural-gas-fired power plants are cheaper to run than nuclear units.”
While that is something that most of us have known for some time, the next line entered new territory:
“And that is leading some companies to consider shuttering their nuclear facilities.”
Smith reports that low gas prices, combined with the need for repairs, may cause a number of plants to close early:
“Among the nuclear plants regarded as vulnerable by UBS Investment Research are Exelon Corp.’s 25-year-old Clinton plant in Illinois and its 43-year-old Ginna plant in New York, as well as Entergy Corp.’s 40-year-old Vermont Yankee and 38-year-old FitzPatrick plants in Vermont and New York.
Plants facing costly repairs include Edison International‘s San Onofre plant in Southern California and Duke Energy Corp.’s Crystal River plant in Florida, both of which are currently idled.”
Smith says that cheap electricity prices have already had an impact on the operating life of some nuclear power plants:
“Some companies have already announced shutdowns. In October, Dominion Energy Resources Inc. said it would retire its Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin in mid 2013 even though it still has 20 years left on its operating license.
Dominion said it would be cheaper to meet its contractual obligations to nearby utilities with electricity bought on the open market than getting it from Kewaunee, which Dominion bought in 2005.
Exelon plans to shut down its Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey in 2019, 10 years before its license expires.”