Exelon to shut NJ Oyster Creek reactor in 2019

Thu Dec 9, 2010 9:56am EST

 NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Exelon Corp (EXC.N) will shut
the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey in 2019,
about 10 years before its license expires, in a deal with the
state allowing the reactor to operate until then without
building expensive cooling towers, the company said in a
release late Wednesday.
 The 619-megawatt plant, which entered service in 1969, is
the oldest operating nuclear power reactor in the United
States. It is federally licensed to operate until 2029.
 To avoid killing fish and other aquatic life in the
Barnegat Bay, New Jersey wanted Exelon to install a closed loop
cooling system that uses much less water from the bay by
recycling most of the water used to cool plant systems.
Barnegat Bay is a brackish estuary that empties into the
Atlantic Ocean through the Barnegat Inlet.
 Exelon opposed the cooling towers as too expensive --
estimated at up to $800 million, according to some reports.
 Exelon said New Jersey environmental regulators will not
require the installation of cooling towers due to the company's
decision to retire the plant early.
 "The plant faces a unique set of economic conditions and
changing environmental regulations that make ending operations
in 2019 the best option for the company, employees and
shareholders," Exelon President and COO Chris Crane said in the
release, noting a specific date in 2019 had not been set.
 In addition to the cooling water issue, which Exelon said
created "significant regulatory and economic uncertainty,"
Exelon said several factors had decreased Oyster Creek's value,
including low power market prices, recession weakened
electricity demand and large capital expenditures.
 Over the next decade, Exelon said, the plant would continue
to supply enough clean, "carbon free" power for about 600,000
New Jersey homes until replacement power can be developed.
 The decision also delays any immediate economic impact on
Lacey Township, where the plant is located, Exelon said, noting
Oyster Creek is one of the largest employers in Ocean County,
providing more than $70 million annually in wages for nearly
700 plant workers, property taxes and purchases of goods and
services from New Jersey businesses.
STATE:      New Jersey
COUNTY:     Ocean
TOWN:       Forked River about 60 miles (96 km) east of
OPERATOR:   Exelon Nuclear
OWNER(S):   Exelon Nuclear
UNIT(S):    General Electric boiling water reactor
FUEL:       Nuclear
DISPATCH:   Baseload
COST:       $488 million (in 2007 dollars)
1965 -      Plant construction started
1969 -      Plant enters service, making it the oldest
         operating nuclear plant in the United States
2000 -      AmerGen Energy, a joint venture between
         Philadelphia Electric Co (PECO) and British
         Energy Group Plc, bought the plant from GPU Inc
         (now part of FirstEnergy) in the same year PECO and
         Unicom merged to form Exelon Corp
2003 -      Exelon buys British Energy's stake in AmerGen and
         transferred it to Exelon Nuclear
2005 -      Exelon applied with the NRC to extend the original
         40-year operating license that was to expire in
2009 -      NRC renews the operating license for another 20
2010 -      Exelon agrees with New Jersey to retire plant in
         2019 to avoid spending up to $800 million to
         install cooling towers
2019 -      Exelon to retire plant
2029 -      Operating license expires
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Walter Bagley)