Westinghouse Electric Company and Bechtel said they were joining forces to create an alliance that would focus on decontamination, decommissioning and remediation services for U.S. nuclear power plants.
The alliance, the companies said, is not planning a one-size fits all service. Each project would be customized for each plant individually.
Having concentrated on building nuclear power plants for more than 50 years, Westinghouse is looking at an industry headed in two directions. Despite strong incentives to put it off as long as possible, decommissioning is still viewed as inevitable and will present big business opportunities for dismantling plants and handling and storage of spent fuel.
Some of those opportunities maybe arriving ahead of schedule. The average age of the U.S. nuclear power fleet is 34 years, slightly over half the 60-year life expectancy of a plant, given the first license lasts for 40 years and these are often extended with a second license for 20 more years of operation.
However, decommissioning contracts will be sizable and the one nuclear power plant around the world that was shut down in 2014 is in the United States.
Vermont Yankee, shut down in late December with owner Entergy citing economic reasons for closing the plant far ahead of a regulatory mandate. Its operating license had an expiration date of 2032.
Other plants are also in dire straits economically. The nearby R.E. Ginna NPP in Ontario, New York, is facing revenue uncertainty. The plant’s supply contract with Rochester Gas and Electric expired in June, forcing the plant to sell electricity in the competitive New York market. Even before that, Ginna had lost well over $100 million over the prior three years, a Public Service Commission filing said.
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