Nuclear Plant Closures Show Industry’s Struggles


Last month, Southern California Edison announced it would close its San Onofre plant between San Diego and Los Angeles rather than fix damaged equipment that critics said could never be safely replaced. The twin reactors were idled in January 2012 when a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of new tubes that carry radioactive water.

Despite spending more than $500 million on repairs and replacement power, the utility, owned by Edison International, decided to call it quits. It faced safety investigations and regulatory hurdles to restart the plant.

In February, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. decided to close the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida after workers cracked a concrete containment building during an attempt to upgrade the plant in 2009.

The containment building is supposed to prevent a release of radiation in case of an accident. An attempt to fix the problem in 2011 resulted in more cracks.

Despite the shutdown, Duke still wants its customers to reimburse the company for $1.65 billion in plant investments. The utility will use $835 million from an insurance settlement to refund customers who had to pay for backup power.

Even working plants are being scuttled. Dominion Resources Inc. announced in October it would close the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin because it couldn’t find a buyer. Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said the plant’s contracts to sell its electricity were ending while wholesale electricity prices are expected to remain low. The company is keeping reactors elsewhere in the country.

“This decision was based purely on economics,” Farrell said at the time. “Dominion was not able to move forward with our plan to grow our nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage of economies of scale.”

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Posted by on Jul 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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