Duke Energy files for 20-year renewal of Oconee Nuclear Station license

Duke Energy filed a 20-year renewal application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its Oconee Nuclear Station.

The South Carolina facility is Duke’s largest nuclear offering and produces more than 2,500 MW of electricity. Its 11 reactors are usable under existing operating licenses through the early 2030s, but by applying early, Duke hopes a subsequent license would extend those years of operating to 2053 and 2054. This is the first time Duke Energy has submitted for license renewal with the NRC, however.

“Oconee Nuclear Station has provided safe, reliable, carbon-free energy to customers and our communities for nearly 50 years,” Steve Snider, Oconee Nuclear Station site vice president, said. “Renewing these operating licenses is a significant step toward achieving Duke Energy’s aggressive carbon reduction goals, which cannot be achieved without nuclear power.”

To keep systems like Oconee’s current, Duke has regularly replaced or upgraded turbines, steam generators, motors, control systems, pumps, and similar equipment. It sees nuclear power as an important part of any carbon-free energy mix and a safe and reliable one.

Through the operation of its nuclear fleet, Duke Energy determined that last year it avoided the release of nearly 50 million tons of CO2 compared to the same generation produced by coal, oil, and natural gas. The fleet is also responsible for 83 percent of Duke’s carbon-free generation. Still, the company intends to push further, expanding carbon reduction to at least 50 percent by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. Keeping its nuclear fleet operating would be critical to such efforts, though.

Chris Galford

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