Power & Operations

National Geographic looks at the future of nuclear power in the United States

May 6, 2021, 12:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Unit 3 of the Vogtle plant under construction (Photo: Georgia Power)

To reach President Biden’s goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, some environmentalists are reconsidering their opposition to nuclear energy’s role as a climate crisis solution. According to the article, The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S., from National Geographic, nuclear power has a lot going for it. Its carbon footprint is equivalent to wind, less than solar, and orders of magnitude less than coal. Nuclear power plants take up far less space on the landscape than solar or wind farms, and they produce power even at night or on calm days.

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.

SLR approved for Surry reactors

May 6, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Surry nuclear power plant, near Surry, Va. Photo: Dominion Energy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Dominion Energy’s application to renew the Surry nuclear power plant’s operating licenses for an additional 20 years. The renewed licenses authorize the extension of reactor operation at the two-unit plant from 60 to 80 years.

Federal subsidies for nuclear plants?

May 5, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Biden administration has indicated to lawmakers that it supports federal subsidies for struggling nuclear power plants, Reuters reported this morning, citing sources familiar with the discussions.

The subsidies would be in the form of production tax credits, according to the report, and would likely become part of the president’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

Illinois governor backs limited aid to two nuclear plants

May 4, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


The office of Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker last week unveiled an ambitious energy plan for the state that includes limited subsidies for the financially ailing Byron and Dresden nuclear plants. (In August 2020, Exelon Generation announced that the two Illinois facilities would close this year—Byron in September and Dresden in November—without some form of compensation from the state, due to “market rules that favor polluting power plants over carbon-free nuclear energy.”)

The new plan, dubbed the Consumers and Climate First Act, calls for achieving 100 percent clean energy generation in Illinois by 2050 and recognizes nuclear as a means toward that end. “In the near term, the closure of nuclear plants in Illinois is likely to result in a generation gap that will be filled by dirty energy, namely fossil fuels,” the act states, adding that any support for nuclear should be “short-term and based on clearly demonstrated need.”

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.

A state of uncertainty: Nuclear power in Illinois

April 30, 2021, 5:01AMNuclear NewsMichael McQueen

If there is one U.S. state you might think would be on top of the nuclear-plant-retirement problem, it’s Illinois: With 11 power reactors, more than any other state, it is number one in nuclear generating capacity. In 2019, 54 percent of its in-state generation came from nuclear power. So why, at this writing in mid-April, does Illinois still face the possibility of losing two of its nuclear plants later this year?

Extension of subsidies for Hope Creek/Salem approved

April 28, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
The Hope Creek nuclear power plant. Photo: Peretzp

New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) yesterday voted unanimously to extend, for an additional three years, the zero emission certificate (ZEC) program benefitting the state’s two operating nuclear power plants, Hope Creek and Salem. The two facilities produce more than 90 percent of New Jersey’s carbon-free electricity and about 40 percent of its overall power.

Latest from Vogtle: Unit 3 hot functional testing begins, Unit 4 water tank placed

April 27, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News
The CB-20 module is placed atop the Vogtle-4 containment vessel. Photo: Georgia Power

Georgia Power yesterday announced two significant milestones at the Vogtle nuclear plant’s expansion project: the commencement of hot functional testing at Unit 3 and the placement of Unit 4’s passive containment cooling water storage tank, known as CB-20.

IEA: CO2 emissions on their way back up

April 27, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

The decline in global carbon dioxide emissions recorded last year will not continue through 2021, a new report from the International Energy Agency concludes. Released last week, Global Energy Review 2021 finds that energy–related CO2 emissions are on course for the second-largest increase in history, reversing most of 2020’s COVID pandemic–related drop. The surge would be the largest since 2010, during the carbon-intensive recovery from the worldwide financial crisis, according to the agency.

Nuclear Power is New Jersey Power

April 25, 2021, 10:00PMNuclear NewsDylan Moon
Salem Nuclear Power Plant as photographed from Delaware Bay.

When a nuclear power plant closes, here is what happens:

Thousands of people lose their jobs. The local economy nosedives. Air pollution increases. Reliance on natural gas, often bought from out-of-state, goes up. Electricity on the grid becomes less reliable with the loss of the most reliable source of power. And electric prices can even rise.

NRC seeks comments on AI’s role in U.S. nuclear power fleet

April 22, 2021, 3:04PMNuclear News

As predictive analytical tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) show promise in improving nuclear reactor safety while offering economic savings. To get a better understanding of current usage and future trends in AI and ML in the commercial nuclear power industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking comments from the public, the nuclear industry, and other stakeholders, as well as other interested individuals and organizations.

NuScale’s Reyes spreads word on SMRs

April 21, 2021, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe


José Reyes, cofounder and chief technology officer at small modular reactor developer NuScale Power, touted the potential of the firm’s technology to help solve the nuclear industry’s cost-overrun issues in an interview yesterday with Yahoo Finance. (At up to 77 MWe gross, the NuScale Power Module is the smallest of the light-water SMRs in development.)

Speaking with journalist Akiko Fujita, Reyes, an ANS member since 1977, also touched on nuclear’s role in addressing the issue of climate change.

The eight-minute discussion is available online, along with the interview transcript.

Sen. Manchin urges Biden to preserve U.S. nuclear fleet

April 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


Highlighting nuclear’s role in providing reliable power, reducing emissions, and addressing climate change, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to support the continued operation of the United States’ civil nuclear fleet and prevent further plant closures. Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that preventing the closure of existing nuclear power plants is critical to achieving emission reduction goals while ensuring a reliable grid.

Consultant recommends subsidies for Exelon plants

April 16, 2021, 2:59PMUpdated April 19, 2021, 10:56AMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear plant is currently slated for permanent closure in September. Photo: Exelon

A research and consulting firm hired by Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker’s administration to scrutinize the financial fitness of Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants approves of limited state subsidies for the facilities, according to a redacted version of the firm’s report made available yesterday.

Missouri mulls nuclear development measure

April 19, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Missouri has only one nuclear power plant, Ameren Missouri’s single-unit Callaway facility. State Rep. John Black (R., 137th Dist.) doesn’t think that’s enough.

Black’s H.B. 261, introduced earlier this year after a similar version failed to make headway in 2020, would create the Missouri Nuclear Clean Power Act, aimed at fostering the development of nuclear power in the state. Under the bill, companies that build clean baseload generating plants or renewable-source generating plants rated at 200 MW or more would no longer be prohibited from charging for construction costs before beginning operation.

Closing Indian Point makes N.Y.’s net-zero goal harder to reach

April 13, 2021, 3:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Indian Point nuclear power plant

With a blunt but indisputably accurate headline, an article from yesterday’s New York Times on the imminent closure of Indian Point makes it immediately clear what will happen when Unit 3, the nuclear plant’s last operating reactor, is shut down at the end of this month: The state of New York will be forced to rely more heavily on fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Following the retirement of Indian Point-2 last April, the share of New York’s power coming from gas-fired plants rose to about 40 percent, from about 36 percent in 2019, the piece notes, adding that the share from renewables moved up only slightly, to about 30 percent.

Bill to spur clean energy investment brought back in Senate

April 12, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News



Sens. Chris Coons (D., Del.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) late last month reintroduced legislation to give investors in clean energy projects, including advanced nuclear, access to a tax advantage currently available only to fossil fuel investors. The bipartisan bill, the Financing Our Energy Future Act (H.B. 1034), was initially introduced in June 2019.

The measure would enable clean energy companies to form master limited partnerships (MLPs)—business ventures that combine the tax benefits of private partnerships (where profits are taxed only when investors receive distributions) with the liquidity of publicly traded companies. By statute, MLPs are currently available only to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.

NRC proposes $150,000 fine to FPL

April 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Florida’s Turkey Point nuclear plant. Photo: FPL

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6 issued a violation notice and proposed a $150,000 civil penalty to Florida Power & Light Company for falsifying plant records and recording inaccurate data in maintenance records at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Homestead, Fla.