CP&L will file to extend life of two nuclear plants

Carolina Power & Light, a unit of CP&L Energy, Raleigh, NC, said it plans to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 20-year license extensions of the HB Robinson and the Brunswick nuclear plants. Both plants basically received clean bills of health after the most recent NRC inspections. CP&L said it will make the first formal submittal to NRC for the Robinson plant, Hartsville, SC, in the fourth quarter of 2002, 1 year earlier than previously announced.


Kate Thomas
OGJ Online

Carolina Power & Light (CP&L), a subsidiary of CP&L Energy, Raleigh, NC, said it plans to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 20-year license extensions of the HB Robinson and the Brunswick nuclear plants.

Both plants basically received clean bills of health after the most recent NRC inspections. In a July 27, 2000, letter the NRC said there were "no findings" during a July 1 inspection of the Robinson plant. The NRC said it identified two issues involving violations of NRC requirements at Brunswick, but "because of their very low safety significance" the plant was not cited.

CP&L said it will make the first formal submittal to NRC for the Robinson plant, Hartsville, SC, in the fourth quarter of 2002, 1 year earlier than previously announced. CP&L said it moved up the submittal schedule due to efficiencies identified from other utilities completing the process.

The current 40-year operating license for the Robinson nuclear plant, the first commercial nuclear power plant in the Southeast, expires in 2010.

The formal submittal will follow in 2004 for the two-unit Brunswick nuclear plant, Southport, NC. The Brunswick plant's current operating licenses expire in 2014 for Unit 2 and 2016 for Unit 1.

CP&L also said it plans to seek to relicense the Harris nuclear plant near New Hill, NC, but has set no date. The Harris plant was the last CP&L nuclear plant to begin commercial operation, so its current 40-year operating license does not expire until 2026.

The NRC has approved two license extensions this year�the first in the industry�for the two-unit Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland and for the three-unit Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina.

Relicensing of nuclear plants continues to generate criticism among industry opponents who question whether NRC oversight is stringent enough and whether aging plants will operate safely.

"The NRC is making a high stakes gamble," says Jim Riccio, senior analyst for Public Citizen, Washington, DC. He speculates that relicensing allows nuclear plant owners to amortize the high-cost facilities over a longer time period, thus making them more competitive in a deregulated market.

CP&L's Chief Nuclear Officer C.S. Hinnant said the company's nuclear power plants have set six consecutive annual production records, and in 1999 provided 46% of the electricity CP&L generated for its customers.

"CP&L's nuclear plants provide our most efficient form of electricity generation, and their increased emission-free output has played a decisive role in keeping electricity prices stable," Hinnant said.

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