Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

FirstEnergy Solutions Reluctantly files First Steps to Shutting down Nuclear Plants


FirstEnergy Solutions has submitted a regulatory filing that may be the first official step in the unwanted deactivation of its three nuclear power plants over two years.

The company Wednesday announced it has submitted certified fuel handler training and retraining program details to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a required part of the NRC’s decommissioning process. FirstEnergy announced earlier this year it would deactivate the three plants although it is seeking options to keep them open.

“Today’s NRC submission is a necessary milestone for us but not a welcome one,” said Don Moul, FES President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “Our nuclear plants provide important environmental, economic and fuel-diversity benefits to our region, but we cannot continue to operate them without state-level policy relief in Ohio and Pennsylvania or immediate and significant market reforms that provide meaningful compensation for the unique attributes nuclear generation provides.”

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio would retire by May 2020. Beaver Valley in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, and the Perry, Ohio, nuclear plant would be deactivated by May and October of 2021, respectively.

The 908-MW Davis-Besse has operated for about 41 years and recently had its shortest outage ever for refueling purposes. The 939-MW Beaver Valley’s Unit 1 was commissioned in 1976 and similarly sized Unit 2 in 1987, making the second unit one of the youngest nuclear reactors in the U.S.

The 1,68-MW Perry Nuclear Power Plant has one of the one of the largest boiling water reactors in the U.S. and also was commissioned in 1987.

Total capacity of the plants is more than 4,000 MW, contributing close to 65 percent of FirstEnergy Solution’s generating fleet output last year. The two Ohio plants represent 90 percent of that state’s carbon emissions-free capacity.

“We intend to work with Ohio and Pennsylvania officials towards a solution that will enable these plants to continue contributing to cleaner air and regional energy security,” Moul said, adding, “In the meantime we will move forward with the required steps towards deactivation.”

A solution must be reached by mid-2019, when FES must either purchase the fuel required for Davis-Besse’s next refueling or proceed with the shutdown.

FirstEnergy Solutions, a unit of Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp., filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year. It plans to get out of power generation and focus on delivery, according to reports.