"Restructured, competitive markets can work effectively and efficiently," said NEI President and CEO
Particularly in unregulated "merchant" electricity markets, older, smaller nuclear power plants that provide diversity of supply and help stabilize the electric grid "are vulnerable to weak market conditions," Fertel said. "Absent necessary changes in policies and practices, this situation has implications for reliability, long-term stability of electricity prices, and our ability to meet environmental goals."
Fertel cited last year's premature retirement of the
"The decisions to close
"There was nothing wrong with these plants. There is something wrong with the design and operation of the markets in which they are operating. They do not value baseload capacity that can be dispatched when needed; do not provide value for fuel and technology diversity, and do not recognize the other attributes of a nuclear power plant."
Nuclear power plants' strong performance during January's polar vortexes once again demonstrated their strategic value, Fertel said. Preliminary data shows that nuclear energy facilities operated at an average capacity factor of 90.9 percent in 2013—an extraordinary level of reliability that has been sustained for more than a decade. Nuclear power plants generated an estimated 789 billion kilowatt-hours last year, a 2.6 percent increase from 2012.
Electric utilities achieved that strong performance even while continuing to invest heavily in capital improvements that position nuclear energy facilities to run safely and more reliably farther into the future. Capital expenditures at nuclear energy facilities totaled
"Remember that nuclear capex largely increases asset value. It positions the plants to run beyond the initial 40-year license term, often increases their output, and makes them safer," Fertel said.
Noting the construction of five reactors under way in
He also highlighted advances in other areas including:
• implementation of federal regulatory requirements to add even more margin of safety in response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident• evidence of political interest and willingness to address used nuclear fuel management issues• intensified government efforts to improve export capabilities for nuclear energy technology and services.
A photo accompanying this release is available at:
The Nuclear Energy Instituteis the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.