Ginna nuclear power plant turns 50 since first reaction

A New York nuclear power plant is celebrating its fifth decade in carbon-free operation this month.

Owner Exelon Generation noted that the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant generated its first reaction to produce electricity on Nov. 9, 1969. Ginna produces enough electricity to power about 500,000 homes and businesses, the parent company noted.

By utilizing nuclear instead of fossil fuels, the Ontario, New York power plant has avoided the release of more than two million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to Exelon. It also avoids comparative annual output both nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 1,000 tons each.

“Nuclear energy remains a reliable source of zero-emissions energy, providing electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week through all weather conditions,” said R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant Site Vice President, Paul Swift. “Last year, New York’s four nuclear units provided more than 40 percent of the state’s emissions-free electricity while avoiding 16 million tons of carbon annually—that’s equivalent to 3.3 million cars running the roads.” 

Ginna’s single Westinghouse pressurized water reactor produces about 4,900 GWh in net electricity, according to reports. It also has two Babcock & Wilcox steam generators and is licensed through September 2029.

The plant’s operation hasn’t always been smooth. It had a small radioactive steam leak in the early 1980s.

Three years ago, Exelon reported that the New York Independent System Operator said it wouldn’t need Ginna’s operation beyond March 2017. The plant is still in operation and part of a small New York fleet of nuclear power plants producing 40 percent of New York’ss

The plant was officially commissioned in early 1970. It is named after early nuclear energy advocate Robert Emmett Ginna, onetime CEO of Rochester Gas & Electric.

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is located on 426 acres along the south shores of Lake Ontario in Ontario, NY, about 20 miles northeast of Rochester and 53 miles southwest of Exelon’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station. 

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and

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