NRC renews license for Fermi 2 in Michigan

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has renewed the operating license of the DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) Fermi 2 nuclear power plant for an additional 20 years, through March 20, 2045.

The NRC announced the license renewal decision on Dec. 16.

The Fermi 2 plant is a 1,170-MW boiling-water reactor (BWR), located in Newport, Michigan, about 25 miles northeast of Toledo, Ohio. The operator, DTE Electric (previously known as Detroit Edison) submitted the renewal application April 30, 2014.

The NRC staff’s review of the application proceeded on two tracks. A safety evaluation report was issued July 12. A supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) was issued Sept. 16. These documents, as well as other information about the Fermi 2 license renewal application, are available on the NRC website. The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards also reviewed the staff’s work.

On Dec. 14, the NRC Commission authorized the director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation to issue the renewed license despite a pending motion before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to reopen the adjudicatory hearing.

The NRC’s direction does not reflect judgment on that motion or a proposed new contention challenging the renewal.

“This is excellent news for Monroe County and Michigan,” said Paul Fessler, senior vice president and Chief Nuclear Officer at Fermi 2. “Continued operation of Fermi 2 ensures a consistent supply of clean, safe energy for our customers. Fermi 2 is an important part of DTE’s balanced approach to providing energy to the community.”

Fermi 2 earned its original operating license in 1985. The plant has produced more than 200 million megawatt-hours (MWh) during nearly 29 years of operation. Fermi 2 employs about 800 full-time workers, the company said in a news release.

“License renewal is a very cost-effective way to meet the continuing needs of residents and businesses in the region,” DTE’s Fessler said. “We’re very proud to be a part of this community and honored that we’ll be here for many more years to come.”

DTE also has an NRC license to build and operate a new nuclear reactor, Fermi 3, alongside the existing plant. The NRC issued the combined construction and operation license (COL) April 2015.

The company has not committed to building the new plant, but will keep the option open for long-term planning purposes.

Renewal of Fermi 2’s operating license brings to 87 the number of commercial nuclear power reactors with renewed licenses (three of those have since permanently shut down). Applications for an additional eight renewals are currently under review. Information about these reviews can be found on the NRC website.

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.