Three Nukes Face Closure as Operator's Woes ContinueDavid Wagman | March 29, 2018
FirstEnergy Solutions and the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and regional grid manager PJM Interconnection that they will close three nuclear power plants by 2021.
The companies plan to close the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo, Ohio, in 2020, and both the Perry nuclear plant near Cleveland and the two-reactor Beaver Valley nuclear plant near Pittsburgh in 2021.
FirstEnergy Solutions has a $100 million debt payment due in the first week of April. The deadline has prompted talk that it could seek bankruptcy protection before then.
With a total generating capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts, the three power plants in 2017 generated about two-thirds of the electricity that the companies produced. They also employed about 2,300 people.
PJM says that plant closures are subject to review and grid reliability is one of the considerations. PJM has been considering changes in how real-time competitive prices are developed in order to recognize the value of large, "inflexible" power plants like nukes that do not typically ramp up and down to meet demand.
The 894 MW Davis-Besse station entered service in 1978 and includes a single Babcock & Wilcox pressurized water reactor. In March 2002, maintenance workers found that corrosion had eaten a football-sized hole into the reactor vessel head. The corrosion did not lead to an accident, but the NRC kept Davis–Besse shut for two years for repair. It also imposed a $5 million fine against FirstEnergy for the actions that led to the corrosion.
The 1,256 MW Perry nuclear station entered service in 1987 and includes General Electric-supplied Mark 3 boiling water reactor. Perry was originally designed as a two-unit installation, but construction on Unit 2 was suspended in 1985 and formally cancelled in 1994. At the time of cancellation, all of the major buildings and structures for the second unit were completed, including a 500-foot-tall cooling tower.
The 921 MW Beaver Valley Unit 1 entered service in 1976 and is powered by a Westinghouse-supplied pressurized water reactor. The 904 MW Unit 2 entered service in 1987 and also uses a Westinghouse reactor.