Exelon to close Oyster Creek nuke in October, a year early
- Exelon reached an agreement with New Jersey to close its 636 MW Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey in October — about a year before the original December 2019 deadline.
- The original arrangement to close the plant was reached in 2010, but operation costs rose, and the shutdown will allow the plant to avoid costly upgrades; the San Franisco Chronicle reported that Oyster Creek is the oldest operating nuclear plant in the United States, entering service in 1969.
- Company officials say the early shutdown will help to manage costs, but they affirmed they are committed to helping employees at the plant. All employees will be offered a position elsewhere in Exelon, company officials said.
It's been eight years since the decision was made to shutter Oyster Creek. The plant was more than four decades old when the decision was made to shut it down and became too expensive to operate. Now officials say they have reached an agreement to shut down later this year, helping Exelon save money.
In a statement, the company said the move would "help Exelon better manage resources as fuel and maintenance costs continue to rise amid historically low power prices." The company said the shutdown also works in employees' favor and gives them "a better opportunity to pursue open positions across the Exelon family of companies."
"We will offer a position elsewhere in Exelon to every employee that wishes to stay with the company," said President and Chief Nuclear Officer Bryan Hanson.
Between now and October, Exelon Generation will work with local officials, state agencies, lawmakers and federal regulators to coordinate the shutdown, while the 500 employees continue to operate the plant. After the plant closure, some will stay on to to decommission the facility.
There have been a half dozen nuclear plant closures in recent years, and Oyster Creek was among a few slated to close in 2019, along with Entergy’s Pilgrim in Massachusetts and Exelon's Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
As more plants close, the funds available to shutter them becomes more of an issue. When asked about the funds to close Oyster Creek and Three Mile Island last year, officials said the trust fund balances for the plants "are in full compliance with NRC requirements. Exelon Generation is currently preparing a long-term decommissioning plan for both facilities and will continue to safely operate the plants until their respective closures.”
Currently, New Jersey is also in the middle of a debate to bail out struggling nuclear plants owned by the Public Service Enterprise Group, which is pushing for subsidies totaling about $350 million annually. PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo said the state's two other nuclear facilities, the Salem and Hope Creek plants, will be losing money within a couple of years.
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