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NRC approves extending Peach Bottom nuclear units to 80 years

Photo credit: Exelon Corp.

Two Pennsylvania nuclear power plants could live long enough to become octogenarians.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Friday that it has approved Exelon Generation’s application extending the licensing for Peach Bottom Power Stations Units 2 and 3 another 20 years. The renewed licenses now expire in the 2050s, which will be 80 years after the two units became operational.

The 80-year license is uncharted territory for U.S. nuclear power plants. The extensions are seen as a necessity in pro-nuclear corners because the plants offer high capacity, zero carbon and reliable output at a time when only one new facility is being built.

“We are pleased with the NRC’s decision to grant a subsequent license renewal for Peach Bottom Units 2 and 3,” said Bryan Hanson, Exelon Nuclear chief nuclear officer. “This plant is well suited to continue running safely, reliably and efficiently, given the extensive upgrades accomplished over the past seven years.” 

Unit 2 is renewed through August 2053, while Unit 3 to July 2054, according to the NRC. Both units utilize GE boiling water reactors and were commissioned in 1974.

Nearly $90 million worth of upgrades were recently completed at the Peach Bottom facility, according to Exelon. Its capacity is around 2,770 MW of carbon-free electricity, enough to power close to 2.7 million homes.

Trump Administration Energy Secretaries Rick Perry and (current) Dan Brouillette both have touted nuclear energy for its carbon-free output and on-site fuel security. In addition to Exelon, Dominion Energy and NextEra Energy have either filed requests or are considering license extensions for some of their nuclear power plants.

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Nuclear energy will be part of the Lowering Carbon with Thermal Generation track at POWERGEN International happening December 8-10 in Orlando, Florida.