Entergy Palisades plant becomes latest nuclear facility set for retirement

When Entergy (NYSE:ETR) said Dec. 8 that it plans to retire the 800-MW Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan during the fall of 2018, it marked the latest in a growing number of reactor retirement announcements.

Entergy and its power customer, and former Palisades owner, CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS) also said Dec. 8 that they had reached agreement to end their power purchase agreement in the spring of 2018. CMS utility Consumers Energy had been scheduled to buy almost 100% of the power generated by Palisades through April 2022.

Nuclear Economics Consulting Group owner Edward Kee will give an overview of the state of the domestic nuclear industry on Monday, Dec. 12 at the GenForum gathering at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. GenForum is a co-located even with the PennWell POWER-GEN.

There have been some high spots for nuclear power in 2016. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 2 facility in Tennessee finally went commercial and there is ongoing construction of four new reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina.

Exelon (NYSE:EXC) helped avoid a nuclear shutdown when it announced in June that a deal had been reached with Entergy to assume ownership of the 850-MW Fitzpatrick nuclear plant in Upstate New York. New York’s clean energy standard, a measure that includes incentives for distressed nuclear units figured into the Exelon acquisition.

Exelon said earlier this year that it would retire money-losing Clinton and Quad Cities stations in 2017 and 2018 respectively. More recently, however, the Illinois legislature passed and Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed the Future Energy Jobs Bill, which will provide assistance to distressed nuclear plants.

But there have been new plant retirement notices as well.

  • Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) retired its 478-MW Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in late October.
  • As part of a deal with union and environmental groups, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has agreed to drop plans for a 20-year license renewal for its two Diablo Canyon nuclear units when the existing regulatory life expires in the 2020s. The utility is licensed to run Unit 1 until late 2014 and Unit 2 until summer 2025.
  • The latest retirements come in addition to the retirements that have occurred during the past couple of years. In July, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said that 14,900 MW of nuclear capacity was either being retired or was “at risk” of retirement.
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.