The six U.S. nuclear power plants most likely to shut down

From Grist:

By 13 Nov 2013

The nuclear power industry is melting down in America, and in the rest of the Western Hemisphere too.

Nuclear plants still generate nearly 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. But a report by investment research firm Morningstar in its latest Utilities Observer publication warns about the sector’s risks. The report says the ‘nuclear renaissance’ is on hold indefinitely” in the West thanks to low electricity prices, largely driven by the natural-gas fracking boom but also by new renewable energy projects, and controversy in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown:

Aside from the two new nuclear projects in the U.S., one in France (Flamanville), and a possible one in the U.K. (Hinkley Point C), we think new-build nuclear in the West is dead. …

We don’t expect an end to the new nuclear construction in China and South Korea or the development interest in India and elsewhere in Asia. … Nuclear power is not going to disappear as a long-term option and it will continue to evolve. However, an investment in a new Western nuke plant even with the best available technology today will remain a rare experiment.

Another problem for the sector: Nuclear power plants are ill-suited to modern energy-pricing schemes, as The New York Times recently reported. Nuclear plants can’t be quickly powered up or down to meet demand as prices rise and fall throughout the day and night, so sometimes reactor operators are forced to sell electricity at a loss when demand is lowest. 

Five U.S. nuclear power plants have recently shuttered or announced upcoming closures: Vermont Yankee in Vermont, San Onofre in California, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, Crystal River in Florida, and Oyster Creek in New Jersey. Those closures have been largely the result of falling power prices and rising maintenance costs.

Here are six more nuclear plants that Morningstar identifies as the most likely to close next:

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