America Loses Another Nuclear Plant

America Loses Another Nuclear Plant
America Loses Another Nuclear Plant

They are dropping like flies here in the U.S. A few years ago it was Vermont Yankee, then California's Diablo Canyon got its pink slip.

Less well-known is Fort Calhoun of Nebraska, the fifth plant to be retired in 5 years. With a capacity of only 478 megawatts, Fort Calhoun may have been small but, as of August 2016 according to the Energy Information Agency, it supplied 26% of Nebraska’s electricity. It shut its doors last week on October 24.

Where is that electricity going to come from now? Well if the cases of Germany, Vermont, and Wisconsin for a few are any guide, that void will be filled by natural gas and coal -- both much higher CO2 sources. (Nuclear, recall, is a 0 CO2 source.)

As the EIA puts it, "As plant owners make the decision to retire nuclear plants, utilities must replace lost nuclear capacity with generation from other sources or import more electricity from neighboring states or countries. After the retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station outside Los Angeles, California, natural gas-fired generation increased to offset lost nuclear generation and, at the time, relatively low hydroelectric generation."

"Natural gas made up most of the new generation in Florida as well, with a slight increase in coal generation after the shutdown of Crystal River. In Wisconsin, the bulk of Kewaunee’s generation was replaced by coal-fired generation. In Vermont, Vermont Yankee’s generation was replaced by increased electricity imports from Canada and surrounding states."

In short, shuttering nuclear does not seem to be the way to "go green."

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