Energy -- September 30, 2013 at 10:53 AM ET
Cheap natural gas is putting nuclear power out of business
Natural gas-generated power has gotten so cheap, it's putting nuclear plants out of business. That's the news out of New York, where two nuclear plants, the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, are facing possible economic shutdown.
"We should expect more early (plant) retirements,'' nuclear critic Mark Cooper, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, wrote in a July report. "Rising costs of an aging fleet and the availability of lower cost alternatives are likely to persist over the next couple of decades.''
Across the country, four nukes have shut down this year--the first plant retirements in 15 years--and a fifth announced it will close next year.
Aging facilities, new saftey regulations, and most of all, cheaper sources of power in deregulated markets is making the plants impossible to operate.
The news is discouraging for nuclear proponents who tout the technology as the only reliable, climate-change friendly energy source. Just a few years ago, energy experts were predicting a nuclear renaissance. Miles O'Brien explored the race to design safe, reliable new reactors and plans to build the first new plants in the U.S. in decades, after the fallout over Fukushima. But, the Guardian reports:
The market setbacks and stark projections have put an emphatic end to talk of the U.S. "nuclear renaissance" that was still being touted by industry supporters as recently as 2010. Just six years ago, the NRC received its first formal application for a new nuclear reactor in decades. It was followed by more than two dozen more, as well as a host of proposals to boost the output of existing reactors, and a steady stream of requests for 20-year extensions on plant operating licenses.