PODCAST: The Graying of Our Nuclear Power Plants

At the dawn of the nuclear power age, back in the 1960s, it was probably hard to imagine that some plants built then would still be operating well into the 21st century.

But, flash forward to now, and that’s exactly what ended up happening.

The oldest nuclear reactor in the U.S.—Nine Mile Point Unit 1 in Scriba, N.Y.—is about to turn 47 years old. It began operating less than four months after Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock.

Nuke chart

Nine Mile Point and several other aging nuclear plants will reach the end of their 60-year operating licenses in 2029, according to Bloomberg BNA energy reporter Rebecca Kern.

Rebecca wrote a special report about the tough choices faced by the power companies that own these plants: do they try to renew their licenses for another 20 years beyond 2029, or do they throw in the towel?

It’s a choice made even more difficult by the plunging prices of nuclear power’s competitors—wind, solar and especially natural gas.

For the latest episode of our environmental policy podcast, Parts Per Billion, we spoke with Rebecca about the graying of the nuclear industry and, specifically, about what exactly needs to be done to keep a nuclear reactor running into its 80s.

You can read more of our reporting on the energy industry at our blog and in our publication Daily Environment Report. If you liked what you heard in the podcast, sign up for a free trial.

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