Cooper: Duke Abandonment of Levy Reactor Fits Into 2013 Pattern of “Rapid-Fire Downsizing” of Nuclear Power in U.S.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School and author of a July 17th report forecasting that three dozen reactors are at risk of early retirement, issued the following statement today:
“The announcement by Duke that it is abandoning the Levy reactor project in Florida is the second such announcement by that utility in the space of just a few weeks. The Duke decision to pull the plug on Levy follows by just one day the announcement that the French-subsidized nuclear giant EDF is pulling out of the U.S. nuclear power market due to the inability of nuclear power to compete with alternatives and the dramatic reduction in demand growth caused by increasing efficiency of electricity consuming devices. Exelon, with the largest U.S. nuclear fleet, recently purchased the nuclear assets of Constellation in an effort to achieve synergies (i.e. lower the operating costs) of its nuclear assets. Entergy, the second largest nuclear operator, has reorganized its nuclear assets and is slashing staffing.
And it does not stop there. In recent months, we have seen the shutdown of four reactors – San Onofre (2 reactors) in California, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, and Crystal River in Florida – and the death of five large planned ‘uprate’ expansion projects – Prairie Island in Minnesota, LaSalle (2 reactors) in Illinois, and Limerick (2 reactors) in Pennsylvania.
What we are seeing today is nothing less than the rapid-fire downsizing of nuclear power in the United States. It is important to recognize that the tough times the U.S. nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get worse.
Florida provides an especially pointed example of the dismal state of nuclear economics, since it is the first state to have both a reactor retired early and a cancelled new reactor since the beginning of the so called ‘nuclear renaissance.’ Advanced cost recovery has imposed a huge burden on Florida ratepayers — over $3 billion wasted by Progress Energy for the Crystal River uprate and the Levy new build and hundreds of millions on FPL exorbitant nuclear uprates (Turkey Point and St. Lucie) and Turkey Point 3 & 4.
The nuclear experience in Florida should not only be a permanent reminder to policy makers across the nation of the lunacy of advanced cost recovery, it also should be a loud call to move beyond the antiquated concept of base load generation. With new reactors too expensive to build an old reactors too costly to operate, decision makers should aggressively pursue alternative resources and cutting edge information, control and storage technologies to build a 21st century electricity system.
Recent developments nationwide have sent what are truly shock waves through the industry and Wall Street. The spate of early retirements and decisions to forego uprates magnify the importance of the fact that the ‘nuclear renaissance’ has failed to produce a new fleet of reactors in the U.S. With little chance that the cost of new reactors will become competitive with low carbon alternatives in the time frame relevant for old reactor retirement decisions, we need to start preparing now for more early retirements or the threats of such retirements.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cooper report on at-risk reactors is available at http://126.96.36.199/atriskreactors.html.
SOURCE Mark Cooper, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT