NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 13, 2004

The nuclear power industry is making a comeback due to high fossil fuel prices, and has increased production in recent years by consolidating operations and using "uprates" -- increasing the steam flow from nuclear reactors to generators in order to boost production.

Nuclear power plants generate at about 90 percent of capacity, on average. According to the newsletter Greenwire.

  • Uprates have increased production from a single unit by 2 to 20 percent.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved 18 applications for power uprates in 2002, nine applications in 2003 and two in 2004.
  • Thirty more plants are expected to apply for uprates over the next five years, which will boost power generation by 2,000 megawatts.

Nuclear power ranks 2nd behind coal in electricity generation. The country's 101 nuclear power plants generated about 20 percent of the nation's electricity in 2002, with peak production at 780.2 billion net kilowatt hours.

Additionally, operators are consolidating nuclear power plants, resulting in standardized procedures and the reduction of operating costs to pre-1990 levels. Several major companies such as AmerGen, Entergy and Dominion have added reactors to their operations, buying out inefficient single-unit operators.

Source: Mary O'Driscoll, "Nuclear Looks to Ride Uprates, Consolidation for Future Expansion," Greenwire, July 7, 2004.


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