NRC Issues Subsequent License Renewals for First Time to Nuclear Reactors in Florida

LCG, December 11, 2019--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff recently approved Florida Power & Light's (FPL's) application for an additional 20 years of operation for Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Units 3 and 4. This is the first time the NRC has issued renewed licenses authorizing reactor operation from 60 to 80 years. The subsequent (or second) license renewals (SLRs) for Turkey Point Unit 3 and Unit 4 now expire on July 19, 2052 and April 10, 2053, respectively.

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New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Industry News

Murkowski Panel Told California Mess is Spreading

LCG, Feb. 1, 2001Experts and utility officials from western states told the U.S. Senate Energy Committee yesterday that the electricity problems of California have begun to affect neighboring states and threaten consumers and business across the West.

The panel's chairman, Sen. Frank Murkowski, seemed to agree. "There is a problem for California. There is a problem for the Pacific Northwest. There is a problem for the nation. It's like a cancer that will spread," the Alaska Republican said "As bad as the trouble sounds, many of us fear the worst is yet to come."

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both California Democrats, repeated yesterday their call for the Federal Energy Commission to cap the wholesale price of electricity across the West. That request is falling farther out of favor every day as more and more players accept the idea that an insufficiency of supply is the main culprit in the soaring price of power in California.

Murkowski, FERC and executives from non-California utilities reject price caps, saying they would only worsen the problem by making it unprofitable for companies to invest in new power plants.

Judi Johansen, an executive vice president of Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp and former administrator of the federal Bonneville Power Administration, told the panel "There is a very high probability that the West Coast will face blackouts this summer." To comply with federal orders to continue selling power to California, hydroelectric facilities in the Pacific Northwest had depleted the reservoirs behind their plants.

On top of that, the area is experience a drought. The area's snowpack is less than half of normal and river flows in the Columbia River basin are at their lowest in 80 years. The reduced production of low-cost federal power has affected Northwestern municipal utilities, which are shown preference in access to the bargain electricity.

Mark Crisson, director of Tacoma Public utilities, said his muni has had to go into the regional wholesale power market for a quarter of its supply, resulting in a 50 percent surcharge on its customers. "We just can't raise our rates fast enough to keep up with what's happening in this market," he toldthe committee. "Not even Congress can make it rain."

In written testimony, California Gov. Gray Davis told the panel he was taking steps to increase energy supply, decrease electricity demand, expand the use of long-term contracts to stabilize the market, and maintaining the financial viability of the state's electric utilities.

"We are rapidly siting over 20 new power plants, including nine that have been permitted and five that are currently under construction" Davis wrote to the committee.

Unfortunately, the state is not rapidly siting more than 20 new power plants, despite Gray's order last fall to the California Energy Commission to speed up its permitting process. There are at present 12 siting cases before the commission not 20 and some of them have been on the commission's docket for years. It typically takes up to five years to get a permit to build a power plant in California. By that time, enthusiasm for the project has usually waned.

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