No new nuclear units will be
built in US due to high cost: Exelon official
By Steven Dolley
April 12, 2018
to their high cost relative to other generating options, no
new nuclear power units will be built in the US, an Exelon
official said Thursday.
"The fact is -- and I don't want my message to be
misconstrued in this part -- I don't think we're building
any more nuclear plants in the United States. I don't think
it's ever going to happen," William Von Hoene, senior vice
president and chief strategy officer at Exelon, told the US
Energy Association's annual meeting in Washington. With 23
operational reactors, Exelon is the US' largest nuclear
"I'm not arguing for the construction of new nuclear
plants," Von Hoene said. "They are too expensive to
construct, relative to the world in which we now live."
Nuclear power in the US "at this point is really a bridge to
a different kind of carbon-free world," he said.
If the existing nuclear units in the US can be kept
operational despite the economic challenges they face, and
technology can be developed to store energy generated by
renewable technologies, which are currently intermittently
available, "then we won't need these [new nuclear units] at
that point," Von Hoene said. "And we won't build them
because they'll be too expensive."
"I think it's very unlikely that absent some extraordinary
change in environment or technology, that any nuclear plants
beyond the Vogtle plant [in Georgia] will be built in my
lifetime, by any company," Von Hoene said in an interview at
the meeting Thursday.
The two-unit expansion of Georgia Power's Vogtle nuclear
plant has experienced first-of-a-kind design, licensing,
procurement and construction delays, leading in part to the
bankruptcy of main contractor Westinghouse. Georgia Power
says Vogtle-3 and -4 will begin commercial operation in
November 2021 and November 2022, respectively.
Von Hoene's stance includes so-called small modular
reactors, or SMRs, and advanced designs, he said.
"Right now, the costs on the SMRs, in part because of the
size and in part because of the security that's associated
with any nuclear plant, are prohibitive," Von Hoene said.
"It's possible that that would evolve over time, and we're
involved in looking at that technology," Von Hoene said.
"Right now they're prohibitively expensive."
The US Department of Energy defines SMRs as reactors of less
than 300 MW that are designed to be built in factories and
shipped for installation as demand arises.
NuScale Power submitted its certification application to the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission in January 2017 for an SMR
design, and the agency accepted the application in March for
a full technical review.
NuScale is targeting commercial operation of its first SMR
for 2026 at the Idaho National Laboratory. Utah Associated
Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) would own the plant, which
would be operated by Energy Northwest. UAMPS has not yet
decided whether it will construct the reactor.
(Free registration required)