Why Are U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Closing?

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is located in Vernon, Vermont. In 2008, the 620 MW capacity power plant provided over 70% of state’s electricity. The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was granted a 40 year operating lease when the plant opened in 1972. In March 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extended the nuclear power plant’s lease another twenty years. However, Vermont legislators voted in February 2010 against renewing nuclear power plant’s recently approved operating lease. On December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant ceased power plant ceased operations.

The Vermont Public Utility Commission recently approved the sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from Entergy Corporation to NorthStar. The sale was approved because NorthStar agreed to accelerate the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant. Entergy is a major electric power generation company, headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana. NorthStar is a multi-national electronics company that is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

Nuclear power capacity has slowly declined as existing plants have been closed without any new nuclear plants to replace them. In 1990, there were 132 operating nuclear reactors in the United States. Today, there are 99 operating nuclear reactors. Eight nuclear power plants are scheduled to begin the decommissioning process by 2025.

Why are nuclear power stations closing? Primarily cost. The average cost of electricity from nuclear power is 11.6 ¢ per kWh. The average cost of wind and solar energy is now 2.5 ¢ to 3 ¢ kWh. Although nuclear reactors don’t emit greenhouse gases, the cost for wind and solar is significantly cheaper. Also, wind and solar energy don’t present the risk of radiation from a nuclear accident.

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