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Kewaunee to start powering down early Tuesday ahead of permanent closure


Dominion will begin reducing the output of the Kewaunee nuclear powerstation near Green Bay, Wisconsin, at 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) Tuesday andexpects the 581-MW unit to be offline -- and therefore shut permanently --four hours later, company spokesman Jim Norvelle said Monday.

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Dominion told the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March that itwould shut the single-unit plant Tuesday.

Dominion said in October it would close Kewaunee in second-quarter 2013because of low natural gas prices and depressed power prices. The companysaid it was unable to find a buyer for the plant, which it offered for salein early 2011.

CMS Energy -- which sold Palisades, its only nuclear station, to Entergyin 2007 -- had considered buying the plant, but decided against it because oflow gas prices and investor pushback.

MISO in February decided that retiring Kewaunee would not affect systemreliability, allowing Dominion to shut the unit.

"After being reviewed for power system reliability impacts, theretirement of Kewaunee would not result in violations of applicablereliability criteria. Therefore, Kewaunee may retire immediately," MISO saidin a letter to Dominion.

Dominion will use the rest of 2013 to transition to SAFSTOR, which theUS Nuclear Regulatory Commission said is a condition that allowsradioactivity to decay while the plant is maintained and monitored.Afterwards, the plant is dismantled and the property decontaminated.

"We anticipate that all of the used fuel would be out of the used fuelpool and into dry storage by about 2020," Norvelle said.

SAFSTOR allows companies 60 years for the plant to reach its finalstage, which Norvelle said is the return of Kewaunee to a greenfield site.

The company plans "to begin dismantling the site in June 2069 withcompletion in August 2072," he said.

There are no plans to mothball the site until economic conditionsimprove to the point a buyer could be found, Norvelle said.

Dominion plans to meet its supply obligations with market purchasesuntil power purchase agreements with two utilities expire in December.The plant has an operating license that expires in 2033.

Dominion opted to sell the single unit generation station because it wasunable to grow its nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage ofeconomies of scale, it said previously.

"In addition, Kewaunee's power purchase agreements are ending at a timeof projected low wholesale electricity prices in the region," it said.

--Mary Powers,; Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,