Less than a month after news of the first U.S. nuclear plant shutdown since 1998, industry observers seem inclined to view the Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin as a market victim that’s unlikely to set a trend. While the future of a few other plants remains uncertain due to protracted and unexpected outages, Dominion (NYSE: D) has said its decision to close the 500-MW pressurized water reactor was purely economic.
Kewaunee is not a troubled plant, officials say. But for a nuclear plant, it is very small, and it is also a single-unit reactor far from Dominion’s nuclear fleet in the East. Kewaunee was also losing some of its long-term customer base.
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On October 22, Dominion announced it would shut down the plant in 2013 and begin the decommissioning process. Dominion purchased the plant in 2005 from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Alliant’s Wisconsin Power and Light (WPL). Dominion had once hoped to control a number of nuclear units in the Midwest.
During its second-quarter earnings call in August, Dominion officials said they were at the mid-point of their Kewaunee sale effort and hoped to have a buyer by the end of the year. Dominion officials said then that their data room was open and bidders were evaluating the information. The Kewaunee retirement also poses transmission implications. American Transmission Co. (ATC) has decided to reconsider a plan to build the 345-kV Barnhart-Branch River transmission project as a result of the Kewaunee retirement news.
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About Wayne Barber
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst, Power Generation, has been covering energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining Energy Central he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career, he has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.
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