Dominion Energy has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the North Anna nuclear power plant’s reactor operating licenses for additional 20-year terms, the Richmond, Va.–based utility announced on September 4. The NRC received the application on August 24.
North Anna, located in Mineral, Va., is home to twin 973-MWe three-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The filing makes the plant the second nuclear facility in the state to seek subsequent license renewal, after Dominion's filing in 2018 of a similar application to renew the licenses of its two Surry units—twin 874-MWe reactors. The NRC is currently reviewing that application.
(Following its April 2020 meeting, the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards issued a report recommending approval of the Surry SLR applications [NN, June 2020, p. 15].)
According to Dominion, the North Anna and Surry units produce 31 percent of the electricity for the company’s 2.5 million customers and 95 percent of the carbon-free electricity in Virginia.
What they’re saying: “Our application to renew North Anna Power Station’s licenses for another 20-year period is good news for our customers, the regional economy, and the environment,” said Dan Stoddard, Dominion’s chief nuclear officer. “Our customers will benefit from continuing to receive safe, reliable, affordable, and carbon-free electricity from the station through 2060.”
Renewing the licenses for North Anna and Surry “is critical to the company meeting the Virginia Clean Economy Act’s requirements for zero-carbon electricity by 2045, as well as the company’s net zero by 2050 commitment,” Stoddard continued. “It also positions Virginia for continued economic growth and will help the Commonwealth remain a leader in the production of clean energy among other states in the mid-Atlantic and South. It supports more than 900 high-paying jobs at the station and produces additional economic and tax benefits.”
The commitment: In February of this year, Dominion announced that it was expanding its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by pledging to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The updated goal covers emissions of carbon dioxide and methane—the two leading greenhouse gases from the company’s electricity generation and gas-infrastructure operations. “Reducing emissions as fast as possible and achieving net-zero emissions require immediate and direct action,” Dominion stated. “That is why the company is moving to extend licenses for its zero-carbon nuclear generation fleet, promoting customer energy efficiency programs, and investing in wind and solar power, lower-carbon natural gas, and carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas.”
Background: Originally licensed to operate for 40 years, North Anna-1 and -2 began commercial operation in June 1978 and December 1980, respectively. The units' licenses were renewed for 20 additional years of operation in March 2003. Under their current licenses, Units 1 and 2 can continue to provide electricity to the grid through 2038 and 2040. With renewed licenses, they would be permitted to operate to 2058 and 2060.