Monday, June 06, 2016

Nuclear:  Set Back and Under the Gun, Industry Struggles with Next Steps

Construction continues on the cooling tower of Plant Vogtle Unit 4, one of two reactors being built by Georgia Power Co.  (Photo Credit: Georgia Power) Click to Enlarge
One utility may close a third of its nuclear fleet, having lost the economic battle to natural gas and renewables.

Another wants to submit a new licensing application to federal nuclear regulators in under two years.

And a third recently said the costs of its nuclear project will rise another $852 million because of a new agreement with contractors.

This is a snapshot of a nuclear industry in flux.

"Given the problems we've had with the only two nuclear units that we're building, it's not a healthy place to do business," said Mark Barnett, a utility analyst with Morningstar Inc.

Troubles at reactor projects in the Southeast are just part of the problem.  Last week, Chicago-based Exelon Corp. announced plans to shut down a third of its nuclear fleet, sustaining tens of millions of dollars of losses each month.

Three nuclear plant closures have been announced in the past few weeks in the Midwest. Nationwide, operators of 11 reactors, including Exelon, have either been shut down or have announced plans to do so.

These reactors operate in regions where cheap shale gas is surpassing wholesale electricity prices -- and where the increased addition of wind energy sometimes turns electricity prices negative.

The situation is not as dire in the Southeast, where most of the reactors operate under tight regulation.  Economics are still at play, however, analysts said.

Read more at Nuclear:  Set Back and Under the Gun, Industry Struggles with Next Steps

No comments:

Post a Comment