42 of the Nation’s Nuclear Reactors are not Competitive

April 22, 1998

42 of the Nation’s Nuclear Reactors are not Competitive

Study Finds 42 of 108 Nukes Cannot Compete with Price of Replacement Power

Forty-two nuclear reactors are more expensive to operate and maintain than the cost of replacement power in their own regions, reports a study released today by Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. Owned and operated by 28 utilities in 21 states, these 42 nuclear reactors are among the least competitive in the United States.

“If deregulation is really about competition, at least 42 nuclear reactors should be shut down as the industry is restructured,” said Wenonah Hauter, Director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. “These non-competitive nuclear reactors should be retired and replaced with clean, safe and renewable sources of electricity.”

“The threat is that in an effort to cut costs, nuclear utilities will cut corners on safety and increase the risk of an accident.” said James Riccio, Staff Attorney for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project and author of the report. “Economic pressure on aging nuclear reactors in a deregulated electricity market could be a recipe for disaster.”

“The lives of aging nuclear reactors should not be prolonged by multi-billion dollar bailouts of nuclear utilities,” said Hauter. “The bailout of California’s nuclear reactors under the guise of deregulation should be a warning to utility customers across the country.”

“Even if nuclear utilities can bring operation and maintenance costs under control, the combination of cheap replacement power and the rapid aging of reactors will likely doom many of these nuclear plants long before the expiration of their licenses,” Riccio concluded.

Based on a 1994 study conducted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Public Citizen’s analysis compares operation and maintenance costs to the price of replacement power for each nuclear reactor over a three-year period, 1994-1996. The results of the 1994 Edison study were so abysmal that the report was never released. Judging from the results below, EEI’s reluctance to release the comparisons is understandable. Public Citizen’s analysis indicates that 42 nuclear reactors from 28 utilities were more expensive to operate & maintain than the cost of replacement power in their own regions.

Reactor Site State O&M 1994-1996 Replacement Power Costs   MARGIN
      Mills/KWH* Mills/KWH    
           
Maine Yankee ME  

212.45

26.6  

185.85

Millstone 1&2 CT  

132.42

23.2  

109.22

Big Rock Point 1 MI  

61.18

23.7  

37.48

Salem 1&2 NJ  

49.3

23.5  

25.8

Perry 1 OH  

36.87

11.9  

24.97

Indian Point 3 NY  

53.36

31.4  

21.96

Fort Calhoun 1 NE  

30.55

9.7  

20.85

Millstone 3 CT  

41.91

23.4  

18.51

Fermi 2 MI  

36.01

18.6  

17.41

River Bend 1 LA  

28.95

11.7  

17.25

Cooper Station NE  

28.56

11.9  

16.66

Clinton 1 IL  

23.93

9.3  

14.63

Dresden 2&3 IL  

42.08

29  

13.08

Duane Arnold IA  

23.42

10.8  

12.62

Sequoyah 1&2 TN  

19.66

7.7  

11.96

Browns Ferry 2&3 AL  

18.92

7.6  

11.32

Oyster Creek 1 NJ  

31.71

22.4  

9.31

Haddam Neck CT  

31.05

21.9  

9.15

Cook 1&2 MI  

19.91

12.3  

7.61

Quad Cities 1&2 IL  

32.6

25.4  

7.2

Beaver Valley 1&2 PA  

20.92

14.1  

6.82

Davis-Besse 1 OH  

20.28

13.5  

6.78

Monticello MN  

17.12

12.4  

4.72

Grand Gulf 1 MS  

16.47

12.2  

4.27

Pilgrim 1 MA  

28.72

25.4  

3.32

Callaway 1 MO  

15.08

13.2  

1.88

Waterford 3 LA  

17.18

15.4  

1.78

Hatch 1&2 GA  

19.76

18.4  

1.36

Wash. Nuclear 2 WA  

19.62

18.5  

1.12

Prairie Island 1&2 MN  

13.53

12.6  

0.93

Arkansas 1&2 AR  

15.56

15.3  

0.26

* One mill is equivalent to one-tenth of one cent.

Public Citizen is a consumer advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader in 1971. The Critical Mass Energy Project was founded in 1974 to address the problems posed by nuclear reactors and the radioactive wastes they produce.

Copies of Questioning the Authority may be purchased for $40 by calling Public Citizen’s publications department at 202-588-1000.