Exelon to shut Oyster Creek nuke early
Houston, 6 February (Argus) — Exelon Generation will shut its 645MW Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey in October, more than a year ahead of schedule.
The plant, about 60 miles (97km) east of Philadelphia, is required to close by December 2019 as part of an agreement with the state of New Jersey, but October marks the end of the plant's current operating cycle. Exelon said the early shutdown will help the company manage resources "as fuel and maintenance costs continue to rise."
Nuclear power plant retirements have increased in recent years amid competition from lower-cost energy sources, falling demand and high repair and operating costs.
About 120mn cf/d (3.4mn m³/d) of natural gas would be required to replace Oyster Creek's power, according to an Argus analysis.
The unit's retirement would likely support spot gas prices at Transcontinental Gas pipeline zone 6 non-New York North, which averaged at more than $15/mmBtu last month amid unseasonably cold weather in the US northeast, compared with $3.41/mmBtu a year earlier.
During the extremely cold weather last month, demand on the mid-Atlantic electric grid rose to as high as 137,939MW, still falling short of the all-time winter peak of 138,796MW set in February 2014, said grid operator PJM Interconnection. But nuclear generation increased to 26pc of the grid's fuel mix during the January cold snap, compared with reaching only 23pc during the extremely cold weather event in 2014.