A new study deems the Palisades Nuclear Plant one of a dozen in the country most at risk of closing before its operating license expires in 2031.
“I’m not making predictions here and I really do want to stress that,” the study’s author Mark Cooper told reporters on a press conference call Wednesday afternoon.
Cooper is a senior fellow with the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He considered 11 risk factors, like repairs and safety improvements, to identify the plants most at risk of “retiring early.”
“This is how Wall Street analysts have been examining the reactors and I think policy makers and certainly regulators who are looking to make prudent decisions also need to start looking and anticipating these issues,” Cooper said.
The Davis-Besse plant, located 30 miles east of Toledo near Lake Erie, is also included.
“With such a large number of reactors poised on the razor’s edge of economic abandonment, the chances are high that any number of key factors could in fact push them over the edge,” Cooper said.
Cooper says nuclear plants are simply more expensive to run safely as they age. Plus the falling price of renewable energy and natural gas make nuclear power less competitive.
This year companies that own plants in Wisconsin, Florida and California announced they'd close early. There are just over a hundred reactors in the U.S.
Entergy-owned plants made up the bulk of the dozen on the "most at risk" list. Besides Palisades, Entergy's FitzPatrick, Vermont Yankee, Indian Point, and Pilgrim plants were included.
Earlier this year Reuters reported Entergy’s new CEO said some of its merchant plants (which include Palisades) are facing economic challenges.
Entergy issued this written statement in response to the report:
While short-term prices are challenging for merchant nuclear generating units in certain competitive power markets, we think that nuclear plants will remain an important part of America's generation portfolio.
In addition to nuclear power being a safe, reliable and virtually emissions-free source of electricity, we believe that, left alone, power markets will recover over the long term to support merchant nuclear generation .
In the meantime, we'll continue operating our plants as efficiently as possible, and also be diligent about looking at every aspect of their operation, while at the same time maintaining the safety and integrity of each and every facility.
As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on the financial performance of our individual plants.