Dominion plans to defuel Kewaunee plant in 2016

A Dominion (NYSE:D) spokesperson said July 16 that the company has received no purchase offer for the recently-retired Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin.

A Chicago area company, called RGA Labs, has been quoted in Midwest news reports as saying it wants acquire the plant and start producing baseload nuclear power once again. RGA is reportedly holding a couple of public meetings around Kewaunee County, Wis., to talk about its hopes for reviving the plant.

But the Dominion spokesperson contacted by GenerationHub on July 16 said he is aware of no communication between RGA and Dominion.

In addition, Dominion is also moving ahead with decommissioning Kewaunee, which it retired in 2013 after attracting no bids from prospective buyers.

Dominion Energy Kewaunee has already contracted Atlanta-based NAC International to remove fuel from the plant in 2016. NAC will be on the Kewaunee site in 2015 to start construction of dry cask storage facilities for the spent fuel, the Dominion spokesperson said.

When asked if the plant could conceivably be sold before such work begins, the Dominion spokesperson suggested that might be difficult.

“There are some key pieces of equipment that would need to be replaced,” if some buyer would actually seek to purchase it now, said the Dominion spokesperson. A turbine and some other equipment have already been removed.

There are roughly 250 workers currently employed at the retired plant site and that staffing level should decrease to 140 by the end of October, the spokesperson said. There were 600 people employed at Kewaunee while the nuclear plant was still operating.

Dominion had not initially planned to remove the fuel from the reactor until 2020, but accelerated the schedule to 2016, after receiving much input on its proposed plan.

This past winter’s “polar vortex” and the release of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, designed to cut CO2 emissions from existing plants 30% by 2030, has caused some analysts to become moderately more upbeat on nuclear power.

That said, however, natural gas prices still remain very low. Dominion announced in October 2012 that it had decided to retire Kewaunee because of its small size at 550-MW, distance from Dominion’s other nuclear units, weak power prices and other factors, such as cheap natural gas.

RGA Labs, Inc. is a diversified engineering company formed by an experienced group of experts covering a variety of engineering, scientific, computing, and management fields.

The company’s website indicates that it is active in areas such as consulting, energy forecast management, nuclear hardware and the Fukushima cleanup issues.

RGA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.          

 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.