Londonderry Twp., P.a. (Oct. 22, 2009) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today notified Exelon Nuclear that it has approved Three Mile Island Unit 1's request for a 20-year extension to its original operating license.
"License renewal for Three Mile Island means that the plant will continue to provide safe, clean and reliable energy to south central Pennsylvania through 2034," said William Noll, TMI site vice president. "Three Mile Island employees are committed to continuing to operate the plant at world class levels of performance."
Exelon scientists and experts have worked for two years to demonstrate that Three Mile Island Unit 1 can continue to safely generate 852 megawatts of electricity each year - enough for 800,000 typical homes. Each hour that Three Mile Island operates, it avoids 271 metric tons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted by a replacement coal-fired plant similar in size to TMI Unit 1.
In the past five years, Exelon Nuclear has invested more than $500 million into plant equipment to ensure continued safe operations and to ensure essential electricity is supplied to the region. This year, TMI will complete its largest capital project to date, when new replacement steam generators are installed in the plant. The steam generators are an essential system to the future reliability of TMI.
According to economics consultant Bates White, LLC, in a report published in July 2008, on average, TMI lowers wholesale electricity prices in Pennsylvania by at least $288 million per year, thus reducing consumer's electricity bills. The same study found that TMI directly contributes $99 million annually to Pennsylvania's economy through the impact of employee compensation, in-state expenditures on goods and services needed to operate the plant, and local and state property tax.
"I am very happy with the NRC's decision to renew Three Mile Island's operating license," said Daryl Lehew, Chairman, Londonderry Twp. Board of Supervisors. "TMI is a good neighbor and I am very pleased for our community that the plant will be able to operate for another 24 years."
Exelon Nuclear personnel collectively spent 60,000 hours preparing the 2,550-page license renewal application that was submitted to the NRC on Jan. 8, 2008. This process involved review of thousands of documents, a detailed review of historical equipment and component performance, and a rigorous review of the existing maintenance and engineering programs to ensure that the station is capable of maintaining plant systems over the extended license period.
The plant's original 40-year operating license was set to expire in April 2014. The 40-year term for initial nuclear plant operating licenses was based on amortization schedules used by banks that financed large utility projects, not on safety, technical or environmental considerations. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the original legislation authorizing civilian use of nuclear energy, permits nuclear power plants to renew their operating licenses.
Three Mile Island will still follow the same rigorous program of oversight and inspection by the NRC during its extended period of operation, led by two full-time inspectors at the station, as well as supplemental inspectors from the NRC regional headquarters. The plant has its own extensive programs in preventive and corrective maintenance, equipment testing, monitoring and replacement, and environmental monitoring
Exelon Nuclear operates the largest fleet of commercial nuclear energy plants in the United States and third largest in the world.