NRC considering Duke request to renew Oconee nuclear reactor licenses into 2050s

Duke Energy's Oconee nuclear power plant

Duke Energy has formally asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to re-license the 1970s-era Oconee Nuclear Station’s three reactor units into the 2050s.

The application for license renewable applies to all three units, which combined can generate close to 2,500 MW. Oconee Nuclear Station is located along Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina. It operates with three Babcock & Wilcox pressurized water reactors.

Federal licensing for Oconee Units 1 and 2 are currently set to expire in February and October, 2033, respectively. Unit 3’s renewal currently runs into 2033, according to the Duke Energy application.

“Duke Energy seeks to extend the respective operating terms by 20 years beyond the current renewal licensed expiration dates,” the utility’s application reads.

The NRC originally approved license renewals for Oconee in May 2000, making it one of the first U.S. nuclear reactor units to get extended licensing.

Oconee was among the first of Duke Energy’s nuclear power plant projects. The company’s nuclear portfolio also includes the Brunswick, Catawba, McGuire, Robinson and Harris stations.

Over its lifespan, the Oconee Nuclear Station has generated close to 600 million MWh of carbon-free electricity.

Earlier this year, the NRC approved Duke requests to uprate, or increase, power capacity at Oconee’s three units. The combined output will be close to 2.8 GW.

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