Nuclear plays starring role in Exelon sustainability report

Record power generation from its nuclear fleet helped Exelon (NYSE:EXC) avoid 87 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during 2013, the nation’s largest nuclear operator said July 1.

Exelon released its 2013 corporate sustainability report on July 1 and nuclear power plays a starring role.

Exelon produced a record158.6 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of low-carbon nuclear power during the year, Exelon said. That was due to a nuclear plant capacity factor in excess of 94%.

On the renewable front, Exelon said that it produced more than 5.8 million MWh of electricity from renewable sources and added 153 MW of new solar capacity at the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch facility in California.

Exelon-owned utilities will also spend $15bn over the next five years in smart meter technology, the company said.

Exelon nevertheless has a complicated relationship with the renewable lobby given its opposition to continuation of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy.

“Due to a variety of factors, such as low natural gas prices and the unintended consequences of government subsidies for certain types of new generation, there is the potential for premature nuclear unit retirements in the United States. Since current energy policies and wholesale energy markets do not economically compensate nuclear units for the fuel diversity, reliability and GHG avoidance benefits that they provide, the sustained ability of the U.S. nuclear fleet to avoid GHG emissions is being challenged,” Exelon CEO Chris Crane said in an introduction to the report.

Exelon also said it returned directly to the source more than 99% of the approximately 34.2 billion gallons of water per day utilized by Exelon-operated facilities.

Exelon noted that the capital cost of wind and solar power do continue to decline; new distributed generation technology is emerging and demand has been suppressed due to a flat economy and increased energy efficiency.

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.