Owners of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant say the plant will permanently close next year, and the site will begin a decommissioning process.
The Virginia-based owner of the Kewaunee plant, Dominion Resources has been trying to sell the facility for months. But there have been no buyers. Dominion managers say economic conditions are forcing the company to just let the plant go dark. Bob Norcross heads the gas and electric division of the state Public Service Commission. He says it may be that Dominion couldn't reach a new deal with Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Wisconsin Power and Light, two firms that used to own the Kewaunee nuke and still buy power from it. Norcross says the big Kewaunee customers have other lower-cost power sources these days, especially natural gas.
Gov. Scott Walker isn't blaming the private market for the Kewaunee shutdown. The Republican targets what he calls unnecessary federal regulations that he says slow the process for companies, like Dominion, to take advantage of economies of scale and keep their businesses profitable and open.
But Walker isn't forecasting any electricity shortage in Wisconsin, and Bob Norcross of the PSC says your lights will still come on, "Supply is still in good shape for Wisconsin."
Norcross says the Kewaunee plant supplied about four percent of the state's electricity but that demand statewide has been going down.
Presuming that Dominion goes ahead with its shutdown plan, it will trigger a lengthy decommissioning process overseen by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Nuclear Energy Institute says Kewaunee will be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to close in 14 years.