Thursday, December 16, 2010

Exelon to close Oyster Creek early

Deal with New Jersey will let it operate for 10 more years without having to build cooling towers

oyster-shellNo one is happy with the decision by Exelon (NYSE:EXC) to close its 615-MW boiling water reactor at Oyster Creek in New Jersey. The company made the announcement on December 8 that it would shut down the plant in 2019, just halfway into its 20-year operating license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April 2009. The company said in a statement that a "unique set of economic conditions and changing environmental regulations" make ending operations in 2019 "the best option."

The economic challenges faced by the small reactor are the lower demand for electricity brought on by the deep and seemingly intractable recession and the costly maintenance. The environmental challenges are the one that have created the most controversy. At the state level, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had decided to push the requirement that the reactor be told to build expensive cooling towers as a condition of its water pollution control permit.

Perhaps the most dramatic item in the news is that just prior to Exelon's announcement, Gov. Christie told a group of editors at a media roundtable that he thought the firm was bluffing over the cooling towers issue. For more than a year, Exelon has been telling the state of New Jersey that it would be too expensive to build the cooling towers. The firm said that if the state moved ahead with the requirement, it would close the plant. According to various estimates, the cooling towers could cost between $200 million-$800 million.

Read the full details exclusively at ANS Nuclear Cafe now online.

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