July 30, 2018 Read More →

Unable to compete with wind, Iowa nuclear plant will close five years ahead of schedule

Utility Dive:

NextEra Energy will close its 601 MW Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Iowa in late 2020 after reaching an agreement with utility Alliant to end its power purchase agreement (PPA) with the plant five years early.

Nuclear plants in the U.S. are under pressure from cheap natural gas and renewables, forcing many to close before the end of their operational lives. Roughly a quarter of the 99 nuclear reactors in the country are at risk of early retirement, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in March.

The Duane Arnold Energy Center, opened in 1975, is the latest casualty of the trend. Iowa gets roughly 40% of its electricity from low-priced wind, and the intermittent generation can put extra strain on nuclear finances, since the plants cannot easily ramp up and down to adjust to changes in wind output.

Alliant says that ending its nuclear PPA five years early and pivoting to wind will save its customers $300 million from 2021 to 2025, though the plant is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate until 2034.

NextEra will evaluate the site for redevelopment as a natural gas, solar or battery energy storage facility.

More: NextEra to retire Iowa nuclear plant in 2020

Comments are closed.