Power & Operations

NRC's RIC: A clear line of sight for accident tolerant fuel deployment

March 12, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

To nuclear fuel suppliers, today’s operating reactors represent a defined customer base with predictable demands. Utilities must order their next fuel reload far in advance of an outage; enrichers and fabricators work to fill those orders. Adapting such a highly optimized supply chain to accommodate new products—fuels with new materials, claddings, and higher enrichments and burnups—will require alignment between all parties involved to meet the associated research, enrichment, manufacturing, regulatory, transportation, and operating experience needs.

That was the consensus during “Current Accident Tolerant Fuel Environment,” a technical session held on March 9 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-day Regulatory Information Conference (RIC, March 8-11). The session was chaired by NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson, who was taking part in his first RIC as a member of the commission.

States sue Biden over social cost of carbon order

March 12, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


Twelve states are suing the Biden administration over the president’s January 20 executive order on climate change. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on March 8 by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who was joined in the action by his counterparts in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

The reason: The suit objects to a provision in the order that revitalizes the social cost of carbon (SCC) metric—a tool used by regulators to weigh the cost to society, in dollars, of emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The SCC—which takes into account such things as human health, agricultural productivity, property damage from increasingly severe storms, and the value of ecosystem services—had faded into insignificance under President Trump.

Axios reviews “green” fuel options for commercial shipping

March 10, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In an article published on March 5, Axios reviews the ways the world’s maritime companies are trying to decarbonize. The maritime industry, “from ferries to freighters—is trying to navigate a once-in-a-century transition away from fossil fuels to new, cleaner means of propulsion,” the article explains.

Emissions from shipping: The article notes that the world’s economy relies on international shipping, with more than 90 percent of global trade traveling via maritime vessels. The issue, though, is that “the vessels burn about 4 million barrels of oil a day, accounting for almost 3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.” The article then cites a United Nations report from 2018 that sets greenhouse gas reduction targets of 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

NARUC partners with DOE to explore nuclear power issues

March 9, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has launched a five-year nuclear energy partnership with the Department of Energy. Announced on March 8, the partnership is aimed at providing opportunities for state public service commissioners and their staffs to “better understand barriers and possibilities related to the U.S. nuclear fleet.”

Partnership members will engage in activities such as stakeholder dialogues, peer-sharing calls, site visits, educational webinars, and briefing papers, according to NARUC.

Support for the project is furnished by the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the NARUC Center for Partnerships and Innovation. A kickoff meeting is scheduled for later this month.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw writes op-ed for The Hill in support of nuclear

March 9, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe


In an opinion piece published last Friday in The Hill, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) says that the Biden administration should focus on nuclear power in order to provide clean and reliable power to the grid. Speaking from the recent experience of dealing with the polar vortex that greatly affected the Texas electric grid, Crenshaw said, “People all over the world are . . . demanding cleaner energy that reduces carbon emissions. The Biden administration believes we can do this by prioritizing solar and wind energy. They’re wrong.”

Crenshaw continued, “If the Texas grid was solely or even mostly reliant on renewables last month, our situation would be far more dire. So how do we achieve both a massive reduction in emissions while also maintaining reliable baseload energy? Nuclear.”

House Dems introduce clean energy bill for net zero

March 8, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

Democratic leaders in the House last week introduced the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act (the CLEAN Future Act, or H.R. 1512), a nearly 1,000-page piece of climate change–focused legislation establishing, among other things, a federal clean electricity standard that targets a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The bill, a draft version of which was released in January 2020, presents a sweeping set of policy proposals, both sector-specific and economy-wide, to meet those targets. The final version includes a number of significant revisions to bring the legislation into closer alignment with President Biden’s climate policy campaign pledges. For example, the bill’s clean electricity standard would require all retail electricity suppliers to provide 80 percent clean energy to consumers by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035. (A six-page fact sheet detailing the updates is available online.)

The Economist: Independent regulators needed for strong nuclear power

March 8, 2021, 9:28AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear power is an important component in the fight against climate change, but independent regulation is needed to gain the public’s---and governments'---trust, according to a March 6 article in The Economist, “Nuclear power must be well regulated, not ditched.”

The article reviews the negative effect that the Fukushima Daiichi accident had on the worldwide nuclear industry following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Japan’s direct economic cost, estimated at more than $200 billion, was larger than that of any other natural disaster the world has seen, according to the article.

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.

ANS forms advanced reactors working group

March 5, 2021, 12:00PMANS News


Knowing that many ANS members are heavily involved in the development and regulatory oversight of advanced reactors, ANS Vice President/President-elect Steve Nesbit envisioned a place where members involved in the field could pool their resources, exchange ideas, and support interactions with other organizations and government agencies.

Nesbit’s vision is becoming a reality with the formation of the ANS Advanced Reactor Group. For now, it is housed within the Operations and Power Division, but the ARG will be open to other divisions as well. In fact, OPD chair Piyush Sabharwall said that input from across the ANS membership is essential for the group.

Ohio Senate votes to repeal nuclear plant subsidies

March 5, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

After months of unsuccessful efforts by Ohio lawmakers to contend with the fallout from H.B. 6—the now-infamous nuclear subsidies bill signed into law in 2019—the state’s senate on March 3 passed a measure, S.B. 44, to repeal those subsidies. The vote was 32–0.

For those who may need reminding, federal prosecutors on July 21, 2020, arrested Larry Householder, then speaker of the Ohio House, and four lobbyists and political consultants for their involvement in an alleged $61 million corruption and racketeering scheme aimed at guaranteeing passage of H.B. 6, whose subsidies had kept Ohio’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants from premature closure.

H.B. 6 established a seven-year program to charge the state’s electricity consumers fees to support payments of about $150 million annually to the plants’ operator, Energy Harbor Corporation, then known as FirstEnergy Solutions (FES). FES had announced in March 2018 that it would be forced to close Davis-Besse and Perry without some form of support from the state. (The payments to Energy Harbor were blocked last December by an Ohio Supreme Court injunction, which complemented an earlier lower court ruling.)

China on course to lead in nuclear by 2030, says IEA

March 4, 2021, 3:18PMNuclear News

China will have the world's largest nuclear power fleet within a decade, an International Energy Agency official noted during a session at the High-Level Workshop on Nuclear Power in Clean Energy Transitions, World Nuclear News reported on March 3.

The workshop was held jointly by the IEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IEA official, Brent Wanner, head of Power Sector Modelling & Analysis for the agency's World Energy Outlook publication, said that as nuclear fleets in the United States, Canada, and Japan reach their original design lifetimes, decisions will have to be made about what will happen after that. Absent license renewals, the contribution of nuclear power could decline substantially in those countries while China’s reactor building program will boost it into the first position.

Energy Secretary calls for changes to Texas grid

March 4, 2021, 11:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday during the CERAWeek energy conference commented that Texas should look beyond its borders to join other grids following last month's winter storm that left millions without power, according to an article from The Hill.

“It would be great for Texas to consider connecting ... to its neighbors,” she said. “I understand the go-it-alone sort of ethos, but there’s also an ethos of helping your neighbor too and I think connecting could benefit Texas in times of emergency, but it could also benefit Texas and the rest of the country in good times when Texas is generating all sorts of clean energy."

Uranium reserve bill reintroduced in House; Grand Canyon mining ban progresses

March 4, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The House of Representatives produced some good news for the nation’s uranium mining industry in late February, but also some of the opposite variety.


First, on February 25, Rep. Bob Latta (R, Ohio) reintroduced the Nuclear Prosperity and Security Act (H.R. 1351), initially brought forward by the congressman last July. The bill would direct the secretary of energy to establish and operate a uranium reserve in the United States to ensure the availability of the element in the event of a market disruption and to support U.S. strategic fuel cycle capabilities.

“The United States has fallen behind in the competitive development of nuclear energy, and now we rely heavily on foreign sources of uranium,” Latta stated. “In order to avoid threats to our nuclear supply chain, we need to build up our domestic uranium mining, production, and conversion by establishing a uranium reserve. The Nuclear Prosperity and Security Act would establish a domestic uranium reserve that will result in lower carbon emissions, new jobs and economic growth, and a more secure world.”

H.R. 1351 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Virginia’s plan for nuclear in state’s energy strategy released

March 3, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

Virginia’s nuclear-sector stakeholders, led by the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority (VNECA), have drawn up a plan for helping the state reach its goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity generation by 2045.

Released late last month, Virginia is Nuclear: 2020–2024 Strategic Plan is the result of legislation, SB 549, signed into law last year. The law directed the state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; Secretary of Commerce and Trade; and Secretary of Education to work with VNECA and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority to develop a comprehensive blueprint for the role of nuclear energy in Virginia’s overall clean-energy strategy.

“The nuclear industry is vital to Virginia, and the Lynchburg region in particular,” said state Sen. Stephen Newman, who sponsored SB 549. “Jobs, economic growth, and clean air are just three of the benefits the state will see from the plan. I am proud of the industry and look forward to seeing them move forward with the plan.”

Browns Ferry-2 outage to include turbine work, loading of 3D-printed parts

March 2, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News

A replacement rotor is lifted and staged for the upcoming Browns Ferry-2 turbine work. Photo: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun a refueling and maintenance outage at Browns Ferry-2 that includes the largest scope of turbine deck work since the unit’s construction, as well as innovations in fuel assembly components, the utility announced on March 1.

On deck: All three of the 1,254.7-MWe boiling water reactor’s low-pressure turbines will undergo a comprehensive replacement of major components, including new rotors, inner casings, steam piping and bellows, and turbine supervisory instruments, requiring the support of more than 500 additional outage workers. TVA said that 600 crane lifts will need to be performed for some components, such as the rotors, which weigh up to 327,888 lb., and inner casings, which weigh up to 200,000 lb.

Strategy for U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear released

March 2, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) have released a joint report laying out a comprehensive strategy for U.S. leadership in the commercialization of next-generation nuclear power.

The 34-page report, U.S. Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy for Domestic Prosperity, Climate Protection, National Security, and Global Leadership, says that collaboration between government, industry, civil society, and other nations can bring advanced reactors to market to reduce global emissions, provide domestic jobs, and support national security.

The report was released with a 58-minute webinar available on YouTube.

Fukushima Daiichi: 10 years on

March 1, 2021, 2:12PMNuclear NewsLake Barrett

The Fukushima Daiichi site before the accident. All images are provided courtesy of TEPCO unless noted otherwise.

It was a rather normal day back on March 11, 2011, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant before 2:45 p.m. That was the time when the Great Tohoku Earthquake struck, followed by a massive tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns and forever changed the nuclear power industry in Japan and worldwide. Now, 10 years later, much has been learned and done to improve nuclear safety, and despite many challenges, significant progress is being made to decontaminate and defuel the extensively damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactor site. This is a summary of what happened, progress to date, current situation, and the outlook for the future there.

Former SCANA CEO pleads guilty to fraud

March 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The latest episode in the continuing saga of the failed nuclear expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant played out in federal court last week when the former chief executive officer of SCANA, Kevin Marsh, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud. According to the state attorney general’s office, Marsh will serve two years of a 10-year sentence, followed by three years of probation, provided he continues to cooperate with prosecutors. Marsh will also part with $5 million, which is to be used to help low-income ratepayers with their utility bills.

“This case is a good example of the power of our state grand jury and how our office uses it to hold the powerful accountable,” said South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson. “While this criminal proceeding is not meant to repay the customers who spent billions of dollars on nuclear plants that were never finished, we hope they take some comfort from the fact that the former CEO of SCANA has pled guilty for his role in this debacle. A public utility and its officers must serve the public.”

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.

FERC to look at grid reliability

February 26, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

Spurred by last week’s power grid failure in Texas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday announced that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability. The proceeding, FERC said, will investigate how grid operators prepare for and respond to these events, including droughts, extreme cold, wildfires, hurricanes, and prolonged heat waves.