Cooper: Entergy Surrender On Vermont Yankee Reactor Is Latest Evidence Of "Rapid-Fire Downsizing" Of Nuclear Power In U.S.

27 Aug, 2013, 11:53 ET from Mark Cooper, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School and author of a July 17th report forecasting that three dozen reactors are at risk of early retirement, issued the following statement today:

"The announcement today by Entergy that it will shutter the troubled Vermont Yankee reactor is the latest – but certainly not the last – domino to fall for the failing U.S. nuclear power industry.   Entergy, the nation's second largest nuclear operator, already had started reorganizing its nuclear assets and slashed related staffing. 

Consider recent developments:

  • The announcement about Vermont Yankee follows the August 1st announcement by Duke that it is abandoning the Levy reactor project in Florida. 
  • The Duke decision to pull the plug on Levy came just one day the announcement that the French-subsidized nuclear giant EDF is pulling out of the U.S. nuclear power market due to the inability of nuclear power to compete with alternatives and the dramatic reduction in demand growth caused by increasing efficiency of electricity consuming devices.
  • In recent months, we have seen the shutdown of four other nuclear reactors – San Onofre (2 reactors) in California, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, and Crystal River in Florida.
  • The industry also has killed at least five large planned "uprate" expansion projects – Prairie Island in Minnesota, LaSalle (2 reactors) in Illinois, and Limerick (2 reactors) in Pennsylvania.

As I pointed out earlier this month, what we are seeing today is nothing less than the rapid-fire downsizing of nuclear power in the United States. It is important to recognize that the tough times the U.S. nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get worse. 

Recent developments nationwide have sent what are truly shock waves through the industry and Wall Street. The spate of early retirements and decisions to forego uprates magnify the importance of the fact that the 'nuclear renaissance' has failed to produce a new fleet of reactors in the U.S. With little chance that the cost of new reactors will become competitive with low carbon alternatives in the time frame relevant for old reactor retirement decisions, we need to start preparing now for more early retirements or the threats of such retirements."  

Available online at http://216.30.191.148/atriskreactors.html, the July 17th report by Mark Cooper is entitled "Renaissance in Reverse:  Competition Pushes Aging U.S. Nuclear Reactors to the Brink of Economic Abandonment."

SOURCE Mark Cooper, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT