[ RadSafe ] Record-Low Production Costs, Near-Record Output Mark Stellar Year for U.S.

LNMolino at aol.com LNMolino at aol.com
Mon Mar 5 20:08:23 CST 2007

Record-Low Production Costs, Near-Record Output Mark Stellar Year for U.S.  
Nuclear Power Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 20, 2007—U.S. nuclear  power plants in 2006 supplied 
the second-highest amount of electricity in  the industry’s history while 
achieving record-low production costs,  according to preliminary figures 
released today by the Nuclear Energy  Institute. The 103 commercial nuclear 
plants operating in 31 states  generated 787.6 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) 
of electricity last year,  second only to the record-high of 788.5 billion 
kwh of electricity produced  in 2004.

Nuclear energy supplies electricity to one of every five homes  and 
businesses. It also supplies nearly 75 percent of the electricity that  comes 
from sources, including renewable technologies and hydroelectric power  
plants, that do not emit controlled pollutants or greenhouse gases into the  

[Ummm. The NEI could do better than that.  Let's be  honest.  Nukes emit CO2 
on par with wind, but in contrast can provide  power nearly 24/7.  They also 
release trivial amounts of radioisotopes,  technically pollutants. - JH]

The industry’s average production  costs—encompassing expenses for uranium 
fuel and operations and  maintenance—were an all-time low of 1.66 cents/kwh 
in 2006, according to  preliminary figures. Average production costs have 
been below 2 cents/kwh  for the past eight years, making nuclear power plants 
highly cost  competitive with other electricity sources, particularly those 
that are  capable of reliably producing large amounts of electricity.

[Add about 2  cents per kWh for capital, and 3 cents per kWh for 
transmission.  IMO.  - JH]

“The consistent safe, high performance and efficient operation of  the 
nation’s nuclear plants provides overwhelming evidence that our business  
model is working and buttresses the case for building a new generation of  
advanced-design plants to help America meet its energy needs,” said Frank L.  
(Skip) Bowman, NEI president and chief executive officer.

Electricity  production at nuclear power plants has increased 36 percent 
since 1990,  adding the equivalent of more than 26 large power plants to the 
electrical  grid and preventing the emission of massive amounts of controlled 
air  pollutants and greenhouse gases if that increase in baseload, or  
around-the-clock, electricity production instead had been met by  
fossil-fired power plants.

Amid concerns about future energy security  and the threat of global climate 
change, and with the nation’s electricity  needs projected to increase 40 
percent over the next 25 years, a growing  chorus of supporters—spanning 
policymakers, leading environmentalists,  business leaders and the public at 
large—is advocating the construction of  new nuclear power plants. The Energy 
Policy Act of 2005 included incentives  for a limited number of 
advanced-design nuclear plants among its provisions  encouraging improved 
energy efficiency and the construction of renewable  energy sources and 
cleaner fossil-fired power plants.

The average  production cost dropped to a record-low even though prices for 
uranium fuel  have increased considerably over the past three years. 
Production costs are  a key measure of an electricity source’s 
competitiveness in the market  because generating companies typically 
dispatch their low-cost electricity  to the grid first.

Even when expenses for taxes, decommissioning and  yearly capital additions 
are added to production costs to yield a total  electricity cost, 
nuclear-generated electricity typically clears the market  for less than 2.5 
cents/kwh. By comparison, production costs alone for  natural gas-fired power 
plants averaged 7.5 cents/kwh in 2005, according to  Global Energy Decisions 

[New plants slightly more expensive,  but still looking good. - JH]

The industry’s average capacity factor—a  measure of efficiency—was 89.9 
percent last year, according to preliminary  figures. That is slightly higher 
than 2005’s 89.3 percent; the industry’s  record-high of 90.3 percent was 
in 2002.

“It’s going to take a  collaborative effort of all forms of electricity 
generation, as well as  much-improved efficiency, to meet the sizable energy 
needs that our nation  faces,” Bowman said. “Still, the exceptional 
performance achieved at U.S.  nuclear power plants in 2006 shows that the 
nation’s future energy security  hinges in part upon increased reliance on 
clean, safe and affordable nuclear  energy.”

Final figures on the industry’s 2006 performance are expected  within about 
two  months.


Louis N.  Molino, Sr., CET
Freelance  Consultant/Trainer/Author/Journalist/Fire Protection  Consultant
LNMolino at aol.com

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