18 November 2012

Declining US Power Prices Threaten Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant

The future of the Oyster Creek power plant in New Jersey which was in the headlines due to flooding resulting from superstorm Sandy, now seems in doubt. Similar to the Kewaunee power plant (see US Nuclear Plant to Close After Failing to Attract a Buyer) lower electricity prices, as a result of cheaper natural gas and the greater availability of wind power, has forced the operator Exelon to consider accelerating the closure of its 636 MW boiling water reactor before its scheduled closure date of 2019. The power plant’s closure date had already been brought forward by a decade. Lower electricity prices are affecting a number of Exelon’s other nuclear power plants and it has deferred plans to increase the capacity of both its LaSalle and Limerick plants, saving $1.2 billion. On the 15 November 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also launched a special probe to determine if officials at the Oyster Creek nuclear power violated rules and waited too long to declare an emergency alert as rising waters caused by Sandy threatened critical reactors systems. Not all reactors affected are being assessed to their response to the superstorm.