Michigan House passes bill to study new nuclear build

May 25, 2022, 7:17AMNuclear News

Rep. Graham Filler (Photo: Michigan House Republicans)

It’s not all bad news from Michigan. While it may not make up for the closing of Covert, Mich.’s Palisades nuclear plant, the state’s House of Representatives last week easily approved legislation that calls for a feasibility study to examine the potential for new nuclear generation.

Introduced on April 14 by Rep. Graham Filler (R., 93rd Dist.), House Bill 1609 passed the chamber 85–20 on May 19 (just one day prior to Entergy’s announcement that it closed Palisades 11 days before its scheduled retirement). Now in Senate hands, the measure instructs the Michigan Public Service Commission to engage an outside consulting firm to conduct the study.

Should the bill become law, the commission must deliver a report on the study to the governor and congressional leadership within 18 months.

Entergy closes Palisades 11 days early

May 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant

Despite last month’s strong (and many might say overdue) expression of interest from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in extending the operational life of the Palisades nuclear power plant via the Department of Energy’s new Civil Nuclear Credit Program, the facility’s 777-MWe pressurized water reactor was removed from service last Friday—11 days prior to its scheduled May 31 retirement date.

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: A smaller fleet invested in the future

May 13, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

The United States has just 93 operating power reactors at this writing. The fleet last numbered 93 in 1985, when nuclear generation topped out at 383.69 TWh, less than half of the 778.2 TWh produced in 2021.

While the 93 reactors operating today have more capacity, on average, than in 1985, most of that increased productivity is down to operational improvements that pushed the fleet’s average capacity factor from just 57.5 percent in the three-year period 1984–1986 to near 90 percent by the early 2000s.

DOE to fast-track Civil Nuclear Credit bids from the most at-risk reactors

April 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
The DOE’s guidance for Civil Nuclear Credit Program applicants opens a window for an owner—present or future—to submit a bid for credits that could keep Palisades, in southwest Michigan, operating past its planned May closure date. (Photo: Entergy)

The Department of Energy has announced the steps that would-be applicants must take to access funds from the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program. Guidance published April 19 invites owners or operators of those plants most at risk of near-term closure to apply during the program’s first award cycle. With shutdown planned next month, Entergy’s Palisades plant would top that list (read on for more on Michigan’s efforts to keep the plant operating), but any reactor with publicly announced plans to close by September 30, 2026, that meets other program criteria could be certified for credits. Successful applicants won’t have to wait long for good news: the DOE plans to announce award decisions as soon as 30 days after the May 19 deadline for submitting certification applications together with sealed bids for credits.

Michigan’s nuclear professionals urge Gov. Whitmer to halt premature closure of Palisades nuclear power plant

March 22, 2022, 11:56AMPress Releases

The combined Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) urged Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers in a letter to reconsider the premature closure of the carbon-free Palisades nuclear power plant in May.

NPPD and Entergy end Cooper partnership

March 16, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News
Cooper nuclear power plant, near Brownville, Neb. (Photo: NPPD)

Nebraska Public Power District and Entergy have agreed to terminate their nearly 20-year-old support services agreement for the Cooper nuclear power plant.

NPPD said on Monday that it intends to continue operating the plant—Nebraska’s sole power-generating nuclear facility—and will use Entergy and other available industry resources, as appropriate.

Group calls on Michigan officials to save Palisades nuclear plant

February 28, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News
Palisades nuclear plant. (Photo: Entergy Nuclear)

In the spirit of the letter sent earlier this month to California Gov. Gavin Newsom urging the continued operation of Diablo Canyon beyond 2025, the Climate Coalition—a pronuclear group based in Menlo Park, Calif.—has drafted a similar letter to state officials in Michigan concerning the Palisades nuclear power plant.

The letter, which at this writing has over 260 signatories, implores Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of the Michigan legislature to take action to save Palisades. Owner and operator Entergy has slated the plant for permanent closure in May, nine years before the expiration of its operating license.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News April through June

January 7, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

This is the third of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the April-June time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

Becoming agile and innovative in an evolving nuclear landscape: Changing the industry narrative for a strong future

November 29, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsGleb Tsipursky
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Photo: PG&E)

Last April, Entergy had to close its Indian Point nuclear plant. That’s despite the plant’s being recognized as one of the best-run U.S. nuclear plants. That’s also despite its 20-year license extension process having been nearly completed, with full support from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This closure was due in large part to opposition by antinuclear environmental groups. These groups also mobilized existing negative public opinion on nuclear energy to get politicians to oppose the plant’s license extension. Another factor is unfair market conditions. Nuclear energy doesn’t get due government support—unlike solar, wind, and hydro—despite delivering clean, zero-emissions energy.

Violation at River Bend draws proposed $150K fine from NRC

October 4, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
River Bend nuclear power plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $150,000 fine to Entergy Operations after conducting investigations that identified three willful violations of agency requirements at the company’s River Bend nuclear power plant. Located in Francisville, La., River Bend houses a 974-MWe boiling water reactor.

Hurricane Ida causes Waterford shutdown, reduced power at River Bend

September 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Hurricane Ida knocked out all transmission lines into New Orleans, leaving more than a million people without power. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was monitoring events at three nuclear power reactors in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29. With winds of 150 miles per hour, the Category 4 storm left more than 1 million people without power in the two states. Ida has since weakened to a tropical storm.

U.S. power sector emissions drop in 2020

July 26, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector fell 10 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to the 17th and latest edition of Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States, which was released last week. The drop is the largest year-over-year decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since the initial report was issued in 1997. Further, CO2 emissions are shown to be down 20 percent from 1990 levels and 40 percent from their 2007 peak.

The 48-page analysis—which combines generation and fuel consumption data from the Energy Information Administration with emissions data on CO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury from the Environmental Protection Agency—was authored by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a consulting firm focused on energy and environmental issues. Listed as “contributors” to the report are Bank of America, the nonprofit organization Ceres, energy producers Entergy and Exelon, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Entergy completes transfer of Indian Point to Holtec for decommissioning

June 2, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The new sign at the Indian Point Energy Center. (Photo: Holtec)

The transfer of the Indian Point nuclear power plant from Entergy to Holtec International and its subsidiaries was completed last week. Under the asset transfer deal, Holtec Indian Point becomes owner of the closed plant, with Holtec Decommissioning International serving as the site’s license holder and decommissioning operator.

The consequences of closure: The local cost of shutting down a nuclear power plant

May 7, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire

When on May 7, 2013, the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in rural Wisconsin was shut down, it took with it more than 600 full-time jobs and more than $70 million in lost wages, not including temporary employment from refueling and maintenance outages. Taking into account indirect business-to-business activity, the total economic impact of the closure of the single-unit pressurized water reactor was estimated to be more than $630 million to the surrounding three-county area.

NYISO issues 2021 power trends report

May 6, 2021, 10:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The above figure provides NYISO's projected mix of resource capacity expected to be available for the 2021 Summer Capability Period. The figure below shows the vast difference in 2020 between clean energy provided to upstate New York and to downstate New York. With the recent closure of Indian Point-3, the difference will widen for downstate New York in 2021.

NYISO released its 2021 power trends report for the state of New York. As noted by many in the energy community prior to the closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant's Unit 2 and Unit 3 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, the projected mix of resource capacity expected for downstate New York's energy generation will be heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

Indian Point closes today, ending some 60 years of clean power generation

April 30, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Indian Point-3’s turbine hall and generator. Photo: Entergy

The disturbingly long list of U.S. nuclear plants prematurely closed in recent years will get even longer tonight when the last reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center, Unit 3, powers down for the final time. The shutdown, scheduled for 11 p.m. local time, will mark the end of nearly 60 years of zero-carbon electricity generation at the Buchanan, N.Y., facility.

N.Y. drops its objections to sale of Indian Point in deal with Holtec

April 19, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The State of New York will withdraw its lawsuit against the transfer of Indian Point’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning under a provisional agreement signed on April 14. In exchange, Holtec has agreed to maintain a minimum of $400 million in Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund for the next 10 years.

Safe operation of Catawba, McGuire, and Oconee plants subject of NRC virtual meeting

March 29, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will discuss the 2020 safety performance of Duke Energy’s Catawba, McGuire, and Oconee nuclear power plants during a virtual meeting to be held on April 1.

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m., eastern time, with a presentation by the NRC staff responsible for plant inspections. Following the discussion with Duke Energy, questions will be answered by the NRC, including by the resident inspectors.

The public and media can access the meeting via Teams. For those without access to Teams, the telephone conference number is 301-576-2978, passcode 71391471#.

The annual assessment letters for the Catawba plant, the McGuire plant, and the Oconee plant, which include upcoming inspection plans for the plants, are available on the NRC website.

Current performance information for Catawba-1, Catawba-2, McGuire-1, McGuire-2, Oconee-1, Oconee-2, and Oconee-3 is available and updated quarterly.

Complaint filed with FERC over Grand Gulf management

March 8, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC), the New Orleans City Council, and the Arkansas Public Service Commission on March 2 filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against Entergy Corporation, seeking damages of more than $360 million for what they term the utility’s “imprudent operation” of the Grand Gulf nuclear plant.

Located in Port Gibson, Miss., Grand Gulf is a single-unit plant with a 1,433-MWe boiling water reactor. The unit, which entered commercial operation in 1985, supplies power to customers of Entergy Louisiana, Entergy Mississippi, Entergy Arkansas, and Entergy New Orleans.

Transfer of Palisades license from Entergy to Holtec challenged

February 26, 2021, 12:48PMNuclear News

Several antinuclear groups and the State of Michigan have filed petitions to intervene in the transfer of the Palisades nuclear power plant license from Entergy to Holtec International for decommissioning following the plant’s permanent shutdown and defueling in the spring of 2022.