Duke Energy seeks subsequent license renewal for Oconee Nuclear Station

Oconee is Duke Energy’s largest nuclear station
Oconee Nuclear Station
Oconee Nuclear Station Photo credit Duke Energy

Duke Energy issued the following media release Monday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy has filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to renew Oconee Nuclear Station’s operating licenses for an additional 20 years.

Oconee, located on Lake Keowee in Seneca, S.C., is Duke Energy’s largest nuclear station, with three generating units that produce more than 2,500 megawatts of carbon-free electricity. Oconee’s operating licenses remain current through the early 2030s; the subsequent, or second, license renewal would extend the operating licenses to 2053 and 2054.

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

This is the first Duke Energy nuclear station application submitted to the NRC for subsequent license renewal; the company announced in 2019 it will seek to renew the operating licenses of the 11 reactors it operates at six sites for an additional 20 years.

“A diverse, increasingly carbon-free energy mix is important for customers. And, nuclear energy is a proven part of that mix having provided our Carolinas customers with clean, safe and reliable electricity for decades,” said Kelvin Henderson, Duke Energy chief nuclear officer. “Our nuclear stations remain economic drivers for their communities, providing thousands of well-paying jobs, significant tax revenues, partnership opportunities and other benefits.”

Critical component in reducing carbon emissions

The Duke Energy nuclear fleet plays an important role in lowering the company’s and nation’s carbon emissions. In 2020, operation of the nuclear fleet avoided the release of nearly 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (if that same generation was produced with coal, oil and natural gas) and provided 83% of the company’s carbon-free generation. The company has set aggressive carbon reduction goals of at least 50% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 from electricity generation, and keeping its nuclear fleet operating is key to achieving these goals.

Technology upgrades

Just as home and business owners maintain their investments through improvements and regular maintenance, Duke Energy continuously implements new technology and other upgrades at its nuclear plants. These include replacing and/or upgrading turbines, steam generators, motors, control systems, pumps and more.

Significant economic benefits

Nuclear power plants create more jobs than any other type of energy generation facility. Duke Energy employs nearly 5,000 workers in its nuclear group, with additional contract workers supporting refueling outages and major project work. In addition, nuclear employees support the communities where they live and work by donating time and expertise through volunteer partnerships.