Duke Energy hit records for nuclear plant production in 2015
Duke Energy says its Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina hit an all-time national record in 2015, producing power at 98% capacity.
Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE:DUK) also reports that its entire fleet of 11 nuclear plants produced power at 94.2% of their capacity. That beats the national fleet average for 2015 of producing at 91.2% capacity. And it marks the 17th consecutive year that Duke’s fleet (with plants that range from 29 to 45 years old) has produced at better than 90% capacity.
CEO Lynn Good has stressed recently the need to make nuclear a part of the national discussion about future energy production. A key consideration for Duke is the amount of carbon-free production nuclear power comprises in its Carolinas service area. And the latest figures demonstrate again how large a role that plays in both producing power and holding down costs.
Duke is considering seeking to extend the life of its current plants by relicensing them for 20 to 40 more years as well as building a new nuclear plant to replace part of its aging fleet. The new plant would be the $12 billion-plus Lee Nuclear Station in Gaffney, S.C.
The company expects to get federal approval for construction and operation of that plant this year, but has not yet committed to build it.
Despite Duke’s large nuclear stake in the Carolinas, it currently has no nuclear power in its Florida or Midwest service areas.
The capacity factor for power plants is based on calculations of how much electricity a plant produces compared to how much it could produce if it operated nonstop. It is used by the industry as a measure of the reliability of plants.