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Ameren decision to scrap plans for new Missouri unit shows hurdles for nuclear via Platts

Ameren’s decision Friday to cancel plans for a new nuclear plant in Missouri underscores the challenges nuclear generation continues to face, particularly in the Midwest.

Construction costs, anemic or nonexistent load growth and the declining cost of alternative generation technologies are among factors cited by the St. Louis-based company for terminating a seven-year effort to secure regulatory approval for a second unit at its 1,190-MW Callaway County nuclear plant.

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The Beyond Nuclear group noted that Ameren lobbyists also failed to persuade Missouri legislators to overturn the state’s 40-year-old ban on construction work in progress, which the company had hoped would help justify the cost of a new nuclear unit.

Ameren also was passed over by the US Department of Energy for hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for research and development into small modular nuclear reactors, the group said.

Nuclear’s woes do not stop at the Missouri state line, however.

Two years ago, Dominion permanently shut the 556-MW Kewaunee nuclear plant in neighboring Wisconsin, blaming falling power prices, in part.

In September, Chicago-based Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear generator, expects to disclose whether it will shutter one or more of its money-losing merchant nuclear plants in Illinois.

Last week, Exelon President and CEO Christopher Crane hinted that 1,819-MW Quad Cities and 2,346-MW Byron are the most likely candidates for closing. Both are in PJM Interconnection. The 1,065-MW Clinton nuclear plant, in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator region, also is losing money, Crane said, but its fate probably will be decided later, not until the General Assembly decides to vote in November on a low-carbon portfolio standard bill Exelon said would provide economic support for the nukes.

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