Early last month, Newswire reported that a pronuclear bill under consideration in North Carolina looked likely to make its way to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, but less likely to be signed into law. We were right on both counts.
While a pronuclear energy bill currently under consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly appears to stand a good chance of advancing to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, its chances of receiving his signature are less clear.
The legislation, S.B. 678, would replace the term “renewable energy” in state statutes with “clean energy” and specify that the new term includes both nuclear fission and fusion. In addition, the bill would eliminate language impeding the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) from issuing Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for nuclear facilities.
According to S.B. 678, “clean energy resource” includes solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, “waste heat derived from a clean energy source and used to produce electricity or useful, measurable thermal energy at a retail electric customer’s facility,” and “nuclear energy resources, including an uprate to a nuclear energy facility, fusion energy, or hydrogen derived from a clean energy resource.”
Duke Energy has filed an update to its 2022 state-mandated carbon-reduction plan with the public utility commissions of North and South Carolina, proposing the deployment of small modular reactors at the Belews Creek coal plant in Stokes County, N.C., which is slated for retirement next decade. A similar system would be added at a second site yet to be determined for a total of 600 MW of advanced nuclear. (Both the advanced reactor production tax credit and investment tax credit included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act offer a 10 percent bonus for facilities sited in certain energy communities, including those with retiring coal plants.)
A bipartisan coalition of 15 senators led by Sens. Ted Budd (R., N.C.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) is backing a resolution declaring that “in order to maintain geopolitical energy leadership, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance the energy security of the United States, the Senate is committed to embracing and promoting nuclear power as a clean baseload energy source necessary to achieve a reliable, secure, and diversified electric grid.”
The resolution, S. Res. 321, was introduced July 27 and referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Fellow fission fans: Cosponsors of S. Res. 321 include Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Pete Ricketts (R., Neb.), Jim Risch (R., Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R., N.C.), Mark Warner (D., Va.), and Roger Wicker (R., Miss.).
Purdue University and Duke Energy released an interim report on May 10 that documents the first year of an ongoing feasibility study, first announced in April 2022, that could help bring nuclear power to the state of Indiana. No technology has been selected and no decision to build a new nuclear plant has been made at Purdue University or elsewhere in the state, but in the Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Reactor Feasibility Study Interim Report the study participants conclude that “small modular reactors and advanced reactors are a viable option that warrant continued exploration to meet the future carbon-free energy needs of Purdue University and Duke Energy Indiana.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review Northern States Power Company’s subsequent license renewal application for its Monticello nuclear power plant. A notice of the agency’s decision, along with information on requests for a hearing in the matter, was published in the March 3 Federal Register.
As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy Lecture Series, Richard K. Lester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will give a speech on Wednesday, November 30, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. EST. Lester, associate provost and a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, was previously head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The event will also feature a panel discussion with Lester, Lefteri H. Tsoukalas, and Morgan Smith.
Register now: The lecture, “Tough Tech for Climate: Innovation Challenges, University Responsibilities, and Some Comments on the Nuclear Role,” can be attended in person at Eliza Fowler Hall, in the Stewart Center of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The talk will also be available to watch on YouTube, where it will be live streamed. Advance registration is required. Following registration, individuals will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
As part of the Purdue University–Duke Energy Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy lecture series, William D. Magwood IV, director general of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), delivered a lecture on October 24 at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms. “The 21st Century Nuclear Resurgence: Opportunities and Challenges” was the third lecture in the series, which focuses on small modular reactors.
Magwood reviewed the factors that have led to the current increased interest in nuclear energy around the world, the serious challenges that must be quickly and adequately addressed, and the structural barriers that require new thinking by regulators and policymakers. He also commented on the ongoing Purdue-Duke study of the feasibility of using SMRs to meet the West Lafayette campus’s long-term energy needs.
Duke Energy’s Harris nuclear power plant’s 24th refueling outage began in early October. The plant, located in New Hill, N.C., is a 964-MWe Westinghouse three-loop pressurized water reactor that started commercial operation in May 1987.
The new Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy lecture series, sponsored by Purdue University and Duke Energy, premieres on August 30. The first scheduled speaker, Arden L. Bement Jr., professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Purdue, will deliver a talk titled “Clean Nuclear Energy: Past, Present, and Future.”
Register now. Participants can attend the event, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT, either in person or virtually. The presentation will be delivered in the Stewart Center Fowler Hall on Purdue’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Advance registration is required for this free lecture.
What’s it about: The series will feature community leaders speaking on the feasibility of using advanced nuclear technologies to meet the long-term zero-carbon energy goals of the West Lafayette campus. It is designed to appeal to everyone, from nuclear industry experts to community residents with a general interest in the topic.
Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) signed separate, nonbinding letters of intent in June with the two largest nuclear power operators in the United States—Constellation and Duke Energy—to assess potential nuclear fuel supply chain cooperation, including support for GLE’s deployment of laser enrichment technology in the United States. According to GLE president and chief commercial officer James Dobchuk, who delivered a presentation on June 7 at the World Nuclear Fuel Market Annual Meeting, the company’s baseline deployment schedule could be accelerated by about three years (under favorable market conditions) to supply the nuclear fuel market with uranium in a range of enrichment levels in 2027.
A new lecture series launched by Purdue University and Duke Energy is designed to educate the public about small modular reactors and other advances in nuclear energy. The series stems from an ongoing comprehensive joint study by Purdue and Duke, announced in April, which is investigating the feasibility of using SMRs to meet the campus’s energy needs.
Purdue University and Duke Energy have announced that they plan to jointly explore the feasibility of using advanced nuclear energy to meet the university’s long-term energy needs, “a move that may be unprecedented for a college campus.” A small modular reactor could meet the current and future needs for Purdue’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus, as well as provide excess power to the state’s electric grid, according to a joint press release.
Throughout the history of commercial nuclear power plant operations, there have been events that changed the industry. The incidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima brought about great advancements in how nuclear plants are operated, including additional safety measures and supplemental training on how to prevent such events. Looking forward, the commercial nuclear industry is poised for a similar transformative change: one motivated by financial viability.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Dominion Energy’s request for an increase in the generating capacity of Millstone-3. The Richmond, Va.–based utility had applied for the power uprate last November, requesting an increase of approximately 1.6 percent.
NRC staff determined that Dominion could safely increase the reactor’s heat output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow, according to a November 18 press release. The NRC’s safety evaluation focused on several areas, including the nuclear steam supply systems, instrumentation and control systems, electrical systems, accident evaluations, radiological consequences, fire protection, operations and training, testing, and technical specification changes.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review the subsequent license renewal application for Duke Energy’s Oconee nuclear plant, the agency announced yesterday. The utility submitted the application for an additional 20 years of operational life for Oconee on June 7. A public version of the application (with proprietary details removed) is available on the NRC website.
Duke Energy has filed a subsequent license renewal (SLR) application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Oconee nuclear plant reactors, the Charlotte, N.C.–based utility announced on June 21.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Duke Energy’s February 2020 request to increase the capacity of the Oconee nuclear power plant’s three reactors by approximately 1.64 percent, the agency announced February 3. The agency added that the boost to the units’ heat output could be accomplished largely through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow. The license amendments authorizing the uprates were issued to Duke on January 26.
Specifics: Located in Seneca, S.C., Oconee houses three two-loop pressurized water reactors. The power uprates will raise the generating capacities of the units as follows:
- Unit 1, from about 909 MWe to 923 MWe
- Unit 2, from about 919 MWe to 933 MWe
- Unit 3, from about 922 MWe to 936 MWe
Duke intends to implement each reactor’s uprate in a phased approach based on refueling schedules, the NRC said.
The Department of Energy has put two reactor designs—TerraPower’s Natrium and X-energy’s Xe-100—on a fast track to commercialization, each with an initial $80 million in 50-50 cost-shared funds awarded through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). In all, the DOE plans to invest $3.2 billion—with matching funds from industry—over the seven-year demonstration program, subject to future appropriations.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette announced the awards late in the day on October 13 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and said, “These awards are a critical first step of a program that will strengthen our nation’s nuclear energy and technological competitiveness abroad, and position our domestic industry for growth, for increased job creation, and for even more investment opportunity. It’s absolutely vital that we make progress on this technology now.”