Wisconsin Nuclear Power Plants to Close in 2020
There are two more Wisconsin nuclear power plants slated to close in the next several years, Kewaunee and Duane Arnold Energy Center. While there are many pros and cons to both projects, they have the potential to significantly decrease the cost of electricity for local residents. The Kewaunee reactor closed in 2012 due to competition from "very cheap" natural gas. In addition, the shutdown reduced zero-carbon generation in the state from 28 percent to 25 percent. Wind and solar energy will offset the loss, and in 2020, these energy sources will make up 16 percent of the state's total capacity.
The Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconsin is the last operating nuclear power plant in the state. It opened in 1970 with one reactor and added a second in 1973. It is the state's only nuclear power plant, as Kewaunee and LaCrosse closed in 2013 and 1987, respectively. But the power plant is not without its controversy. One recent explosion in a Wisconsin nuclear power plant caused a statewide blackout, which made its closure even more important.
NextEra Energy is the owner and operator of the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant, which is a pressurized water reactor and is located in Two Rivers, WI, on the shore of Lake Michigan. The company has applied to renew its license for a subsequent 20-year period, and is required to submit an environmental report. This application also has two pathways to renewal. One of the pathways requires the company to provide additional information about the plant's environmental impact.
The company, NextEra Energy, owns the Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconsin, located 13 miles from Manitowoc. It sells its power to WE Energies. NextEra will host a webinar on Feb. 17 to answer questions about the environmental review process. It plans to submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will decide in about 18 months. If approved, the plant will remain operational for another 20 years, or even longer.
The transaction will require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The deal requires approval under the Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The company will use the same team as Point Beach's other nuclear power plants: the Duane Arnold Energy Center in Iowa, and the Seabrook Station in New Hampshire. In addition to the Point Beach nuclear plant, FPL Group will manage the entire facility, including its staff and nuclear fuel.
The Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconsin generates nearly 14 percent of the state's electricity. It is the only nuclear plant operating in Wisconsin, and is located north of Manitowoc on Lake Michigan. But if there's any question about the safety of nuclear power plants, it's the risk of leaking radioactive waste. Its owners have a long-term plan to keep the plant operating for decades.
The closing of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in western Wisconsin is a blow to the industry. After 39 years in operation, the plant has closed its doors due to economics. Dominion Energy was a longtime owner and operator of the plant. After its closure in 2013, the plant was deemed to be safe and well-run. Regulatory and operational issues were relatively rare. However, economics were the primary reason for the shutdown.
This shutdown of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Western Wisconsin has triggered debates in the industry. With the shutdown, many companies are weighing the potential benefits of keeping nuclear power plants around. In addition to providing engineering and design services, Fluor provided hands-on supervision of the plant's installations and performed pre-operational testing. While this may seem like an unattractive job, many companies prefer working at nuclear power plants.
The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton, Wisconsin is located 35 miles southeast of Green Bay. It's a sprawling 18-story blue and white tangle that houses racks of spent nuclear fuel. The plant employs about 660 people and supplies nearly a fifth of Wisconsin's electricity. The company is closing the plant in the second quarter of 2013 and transferring the power to the state grid.
While the closure of the Kewaunee power station has brought about a dramatic economic downturn in the area, there are many positive aspects of the project. Kewaunee County will benefit from the decommissioning process, which will bring jobs, tax contributions, and new homes onto the property. The company that bought the plant from Dominion Energy is committed to decommissioning the site within 10 years.
The decommissioning process for the plant will cost $937 million. The process will generate interest for the decommissioning fund. It is important to note that Carlton has not yet been negatively affected by the loss of its major tax provider. The town still receives state utility tax, which will be phased out over five years. So, what will be the impact of the decommissioning process on Carlton?
The company has agreed to spend $85 million per year to decommission the plant. It will employ 200 local contractors. It will also demolish the plant and open up lakefront property for new development. It has decommissioned other nuclear power plants as well, including the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor in Wisconsin and the Three Mile Island Unit-2 in Pennsylvania. Earlier, EnergySolutions decommissioning projects included the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor and the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant in Nebraska.
Duane Arnold Energy Center
The Duane Arnold Energy Center is one of several nuclear power plants in the United States, and it's located near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The plant is a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. and will be retired before 2020. NextEra's decision to close this plant was based on the economic impact on the surrounding communities and on the need for additional generation capacity.
The state of Iowa's public utility is not likely to be as biased against nuclear energy as the Public Utilities Commission of California, and the minority owners are cautiously optimistic about the closure. However, the minority owners should be heard in the process. Ultimately, the decision to shut down the plant may be beneficial in the long run, especially since the regulatory environment and markets may shift enough to allow the plant to remain operational.
The Duane Arnold Energy Center, Wisconsin nuclear plant is part of NextEra's larger power grid. In addition to the five Wisconsin nuclear power plants, the company also owns the Duane Arnold plant in Iowa and the Seabrook Station in Massachusetts. Each plant has one reactor and is operated by a utility. The nuclear power plants are also responsible for providing a steady and safe supply of energy to the local and national grid.
The DAEC is the only nuclear power plant in Iowa. It was built in the early 1970s and entered commercial operation in February 1975. Its location in an area with a low seismic risk was beneficial as the plant is well protected from flooding. It even managed to remain operating during the 2008 "500-year flood" that devastated Cedar Rapids. However, DAEC faced similar financial challenges to other small single-unit nuclear power plants across the country. In May 2013, it became the first one to shut down.
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