When the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 nuclear power plant was finally approaching completion the big public utility hailed it as “the nation’s first new nuclear generation of the 21st century.” That was in October 2015, and the plant was thought to be only a few months away from going online. But it wasn’t until October 2016 that Watts Bar 2 began operating commercially. In March, just over five months later, the plant went offline — and it’s expected to remain offline at least into this summer, the TVA region’s peak period for electrical demand. The 21st century is shaping up as not a good one for nuclear power, and Watts Bar Unit 2 may show why. The U.S. nuclear industry is running in neutral, except when it runs in reverse. Other than Watts Bar 2, the last new nuclear plant to enter American service is now nearly 20 years old — TVA’s 1996-vintage Watts Bar Unit 1. California is on the verge of exiting the nuclear power field entirely, with the planned mothballing of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon power plant. Diablo Canyon’s two reactors are to be shut down in 2024 and 2025 as part of a deal reached last year for the utility’s transition to other renewable sources. That deal followed the 2013 decision of Southern California Edison to permanently close San Onofre, the state’s only other nuclear power plant, following a botched attempt at its refurbishment.
LA Times 8th May 2017 read more »