Energy Systems, Strategies, Assessments, and Integration (ESSAI)
Economic and Market Challenges Facing the U.S. Nuclear Commercial Fleet - Cost and Revenue Study
The Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee and Fort Calhoun nuclear power plants were retired early for economic and financial reasons. Early retirement was proposed for Clinton and Quad Cities in Illinois and for Nine Mile Point, Fitzpatrick, and Ginna in New York. The owner of other units, including Pilgrim in Massachusetts and Palisades in Michigan has announced near term shutdown dates. Other nuclear power plants, including Davis-Besse, Prairie Island, and Three Mile Island Unit 1, have been identified as facing financial stress that may lead to early retirement. In addition, other units, including Indian Point in New York and Diablo Canyon in California, are facing political pressures to terminate operations prematurely.
These early retirements of operating nuclear power plants will mean the loss of a large amount of zero-emission electricity, inconsistent with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and other air pollutants in the electricity sector. In addition, significant negative effects of these closures are being, and will be experienced, on local economies, electricity grid resilience, fuel diversity and United States world leadership on nuclear issues, including nonproliferation and safety standards.
Since 2016, several studies have been published exploring the causes and effects of current electricity market structures on the economics of the operating nuclear power plant fleet. These studies generally concluded that deregulated electricity markets were reacting to the unexpectedly low costs of natural gas, and various incentives being provided to variable renewable sources, in ways that were causing currently operating nuclear plants to become uneconomic.
This report builds upon an earlier Energy Systems, Strategies, Assessments, and Integration (ESSAI) report titled "The Economic and Market Challenges Facing the U.S. Nuclear Commercial Fleet", issued September 2016, Energy Systems Strategic Assessment Institute, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) (https://gain.inl.gov/Shared%20Documents/EconomicsNuclear-Fleet.pdf).