NRC report notes aging domestic nuclear fleet

Almost 40% of the 99 commercial nuclear power reactors in the United States are now at least 40 years old, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) notes briefly in the just-released Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2015.

On page 17 of the report, under NRC’s management discussion and analysis, the agency gives a rundown of the U.S. reactor fleet’s age of operation at the end of FY 2015, which was Sept. 30.

At the end of the fiscal year, there was only one reactor that had been operating for 19 years or less; there were 21 reactors that were between 20 and 29 years old; there were 38 reactors between 30 and 39 years old and there were 39 reactors that had been running for 40 years or more.

If you do the math, that comes out to 39.39% of the reactor fleet that has hit age 40. The NRC initially licenses nuclear power plants for 40 years. In recent years, most domestic nuclear plants have applied for, and received, a 20-year license extension from NRC.

Dominion (NYSE:D) said Nov. 6 that it has become the first U.S. nuclear operator to formally notify NRC that it intends to apply for a second 20-year license renewal for a nuclear power plant. Dominion plans to seek the second license extension for the dual-unit Surry nuclear plant in Virginia.

The “subsequent license renewals,” as NRC refers to them, would open the door for running a nuclear plant for a total of 80 years.

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) is interested in potentially doing the same thing for the Peach Bottom nuclear station in Pennsylvania.

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.