Author: Helen

Nuclear Power Plants: The U.S. Nuclear Fleet

Nuclear Power Plants: The U.S. Nuclear Fleet

Photos: It’s a cold November rain at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Pacific Grove, California. (Photo by Daniel E. Rose/NOAA/EOSDIS PROPERTIES)

“If we don’t get the money to rebuild the nuclear-power plants that exist today, we will have to find another way to deal with the problem,” the former administrator of the Office of Nuclear Energy, J. Craig Lewis, once said.

Well, that may be the only way we can deal with the problem.

As of November 2018, the U.S. nuclear-powered fleet contained just three aging plants, which have a combined generating capacity of 8 gigawatts (GW) at three sites:

• Three reactors at the Plant Vogtle, Georgia, each generating about 15 MW

• Three reactors at the Watts Bar, Georgia, Nuclear Generating Facility (NGF), each generating 6 MW

• Two reactors at the Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station (VNGS), each generating 2 MW

The only other U.S. reactor currently operating is a small, 2 MW light-water research reactor that is under construction at Idaho National Laboratory and is expected to be online by 2023.

When the last two reactors at the Vogtle site are retired, the U.S. nuclear fleet will have shrunk to just 1.7 GW at the three sites:

• Plant Vogtle, generating 14 MW

• NGF, generating 6 MW

• VNGS, generating 2 MW

It’s a far cry from the 3.6 GW of nuclear capacity that existed in 1969.

The new nuclear fleet has fewer nuclear reactors, and the plants they are replacing are either all on the drawing board (Nevada Power’s two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California are on loan), some in commercial operation but not generating (South Carolina’s South Santee facility is not scheduled to begin commercial operation until at least 2024) or are years from operation (Georgia Power)

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