Dominion shuts Kewaunee power reactor in Wisconsin

Tue May 7, 2013 1:37pm EDT

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May 7 (Reuters) - U.S. power company Dominion Resources Inc shut the 566-megawatt (MW) Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin on Tuesday, as planned.

"We planned to shut at about noon today but are running a little ahead of schedule. We closed the breaker a little bit ago," Dominion spokesman Mark Kranz told Reuters before noon.

Dominion announced in October it would shut Kewaunee, even though its operating license does not expire until 2033, after failing to find a buyer for the plant due to economic reasons related in part to low natural gas and power prices.

Kewaunee, a pressurized water reactor, entered service in 1974 and is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, about 27 miles (43 km) southeast of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Kewaunee is the second U.S. reactor to be retired this year. The last group of reactors was retired in the late 1990s.

Earlier this year, Duke Energy Corp said it would retire its 860-MW Crystal River 3 reactor in Florida, due in part to the uncertain cost of replacing the unit's containment structure.

Crystal River 3 had been shut since 2009 when its containment structure was damaged during a power upgrade and replacement of the unit's steam generators.

Kranz said there are 632 workers at the plant. Dominion plans to lay off about 200 people at the end of May and another 100 or so at the end of June, he said.

By September 2014, the company expects to have about 293 workers and will stay at about that level for the plant decommissioning.

Kewaunee does not pay property tax but it does pay utility tax on the generation it produces. Kranz could not say exactly what the plant paid in total taxes but that it gave just under $1 million a year to Kewaunee County and about $425,000 a year to the town of Carlton, Wisconsin, where the plant is located.

Kranz said the company and the state were in discussion about future taxes.

Dominion bought Kewaunee from Wisconsin utilities Wisconsin Public Service, now a unit of Integrys Energy Group Inc and Wisconsin Power and Light, a unit of Alliant Energy Inc , in July 2005 for about $220 million.

In October, Dominion said it would record a $281 million after-tax charge in the third quarter of 2012, related to the closing of the reactor.

Dominion also said in October that the reactor's decommissioning trust is currently fully funded and the company believes the amount available in the trust plus expected earnings will be sufficient to cover all decommissioning costs.

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