Today’s nuclear energy facilities produce 64 percent of America’s clean, carbon-free electricity. As America confronts climate change and seeks to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear energy is a vital part of the mix. It’s a 24/7 provider of base load power, far more productive than other clean energy sources and far more reliable, too.
Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants contribute nearly $2 billion to the state GDP and account for approximately 16,000 in-state full-time jobs. The plants help keep electricity prices low, providing $788 million in annual savings, and annual state and Federal taxes collected from the plants is quantified at more than $400 million*.
*source: “Pennsylvania Nuclear Power Plants’ Contribution to the State Economy” by The Brattle Group
Subsequent License Renewal
On June 7, 2016 Exelon announced that the company is seeking a Subsequent (i.e., Second) License Renewal for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. Exelon President and CEO Chris Crane made the announcement in Harrisburg during an event in the Capitol Rotunda.
A second license renewal would enable Peach Bottom to operate for an additional 20 years; providing safe, reliable, carbon-free power to more than 2.7 million homes and businesses until 2054.
A second 20-year license renewal would also provide long-term support for the local and regional economy by preserving well-paying jobs. Peach Bottom employs more than 800 full-time workers who live locally and support businesses in the communities surrounding the station. Annual refueling outages bring thousands of additional workers to the station each year, many of whom stay in the area and spend money at hotels, restaurants and other businesses, providing a significant boost to the local economy.
License Renewal Process
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) license renewal process will take several years and will require a comprehensive review of the plant’s aging management programs and activities that will ensure the continuing health and readiness of the plant’s safety systems, structures, and components to perform their protective design functions throughout the second period of extended operation. The NRC provides opportunities for public involvement through the process.
Upgrades and Improvements
Peach Bottom is safer today than the day it was built, thanks to numerous design enhancements, new equipment and state of the art technology. In fact, almost every major piece of equipment in the plant has been upgraded or replaced since 1974, including generators, turbines, transformers and critical backup systems.
Extended Power Uprate (EPU) project - Over the past seven years, Exelon has invested in new equipment and new technologies to increase Peach Bottom’s generation capacity by approximately 12 percent. Peach Bottom is now generating an additional 270 megawatts of carbon-free electricity, enough power for more than 250,000 regional homes and businesses, while saving more than two million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Many of Peach Bottom’s major components have been replaced or upgraded as part of this project, including the station’s high and low-pressure turbines, steam dryers, main generators and main power transformers. These state of the art technology upgrades and new equipment installations are making Peach Bottom safer, more reliable and more efficient than ever before.
Measurement Uncertainty Recapture (MUR) Uprate - In January of 2018, Peach Bottom completed an MUR uprate on each of its two operating units. During the uprate, previously installed meters were recalibrated to provide a more precise measurement of the reactor’s thermal power level. Because only minor modifications to the plant were necessary, the uprates were effective way to generate additional electricity without the need for new construction. Completion of the uprate has enabled Peach Bottom to generate approximately 22 MWe additional per unit.
Post-Fukushima Actions – In March of 2011, damage occurred to the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, as a result of an earthquake and tsunami that were beyond the limits plant was built to withstand.
Following the Fukushima event, the NRC issued orders to the US nuclear fleet to perform several actions, such as plant inspections for seismic and flooding protection, installation of Spent Fuel Pool instrumentation, installation of Reliable Containment Vents, and creation of mitigating strategies to respond to a similar event.
Peach Bottom has completed the actions and implemented the required mitigating strategies, known as FLEX or Flexible and Diverse Strategies. These include completion of plant design changes, purchase of portable equipment, such as generators and pumps, creation of new procedures and training for all site personnel. As a result of the actions taken, Peach Bottom’s capability to respond to and mitigate the very unlikely occurrence of a seismic or flooding event similar to Fukushima is much improved.
Security - By design and construction, nuclear facilities are very difficult to penetrate. That, plus a well-armed paramilitary security force, and multiple backup safety systems, delivers layer upon layer of safety.
The nuclear energy industry maintains very strict security to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to critical equipment or approaching close enough to harm the facility either by land or air. America’s nuclear sites are protected by sophisticated surveillance systems and approximately 9,000 highly trained, armed officers.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission now considers new threat scenarios and protections in emergency preparedness in light of the threat of physical or cyber terrorist attacks. After September 11, 2001, all those involved in emergency planning reevaluated those plans and put additional practices in place. Exelon Generation has open lines of communications with the Dept. of Homeland security.
Spent Fuel Storage – Peach Bottom has been storing used fuel safely onsite in dry cask storage since 2000. The spent fuel is stored in pools for seven years before it is placed into dry cask storage containers and transported to a concrete storage pad onsite. The current dry cask storage facility has enough space to store Peach Bottom’s used fuel through 2019. Plans to design and install a new pad, just north of the existing storage pad, are in development. The new pad will accommodate used fuel storage until 2034, the end of the currently licensed operating period. An additional pad may be built, or the current pad extended, to accommodate additional used fuel if Peach Bottom enters a second period of extended operation and a national repository is not opened yet.