Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Nuke Shutdown

I guess you could say it’s official: operating a nuclear power plant is just too expensive.

Economists have been saying this for years, but this time the statement comes from Entergy, the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station. In announcing that the plant was closing, Entergy pointed to the high cost of operations and the comparatively low cost of electricity generated by burning natural gas. Entergy did not specifically mention solar — probably that word is taboo in the nuclear business — but had it made that comparison, it would have found that solar too provides a less expensive option.

The move comes as something of a surprise, as Vermont Yankee was expected to keep operating for another generation or longer. But it is not too surprising to those who have been following uranium trends.

The rising cost of uranium, as global supplies dwindle, must have been the main consideration, given that the plant will shut down only after its current fuel runs out. We can expect to see this situation again as other nuclear operators face sticker shock when they look at their options for refueling.