Question About Nuclear

I was perusing the US electricity generation data a minute ago, and noticed this trend in nuclear generation in the US (all numbers in millions of MW-hours, from here):


I am wondering at the fall of 300 million megawatts-hours from 1999 to 2006.  My guess is that maybe some of the really old US government-owned plants closed.  But to the extent that this decline is due to aging plants and regulations limiting capacity, it strikes me that if someone in government really wanted to come up with a plan by 2020 to reduce CO2 in utility plant emissions, that regaining a portion of this lost nuclear capacity might be the cheapest and fastest approach.  After all, 300 million MWH is about 20% of total coal-fired generation and about 45 times more capacity than the sum of all US generation from non-hydro renewables (which don't really reduce CO2 anyway).


  1. Xmas:

    Well, nuclear is the most viable on the non-carbon-emission energy sources.

    Now, if we could only get the government to get Yucca Mountain open for business.

  2. diz:

    Actually nuke generations is up somewhat. See here for totals:

    The chart you linked was for utilities only. De-regulation shifted ownership of some nuke plants to non-utilities as can be seen here:

    The bulk of the nuke capacity in this country were built in the 1970's by Investor Owned Utilities. Many of these plants are hitting the window where they would be de-commissioned, but owners have had pretty good success getting the plants re-commissioned. The econmics of nuclear power (from an existing plant) are stellar these days with natural gas prices so high. Nukes tend to be high capital cost, low fuel cost.

    It looks like we last de-commissioned a nuke plant in 1998. That's a time when fossil fuels were really cheap. The gains in production appear to come from running the existing fleet harder, as capacity is static.

  3. Rob (another Rob):

    Then there are the idiots in SMUD (Sacramento, CA) that shut down a perfectly fine plant in the wake of TMI and the "China Syndrome"...


  4. Dave Moelling:

    We lost several plants due to local politics. Maine Yankee, Y ankee Rowe, Connecticut Yankee, Millstone I, Zion I and II, SMUD, Trojan.

    Most were in Green/Blue States (New England, California, Washington) and Zion was killed by unions and crooked Illinois pols.

    Seabrook II was stopped when Dukakis ran for President as was Shorham in NY when Cuomo considered running. About $10B in investment thrown away.