A SENIOR OFFICIAL WITH America's largest nuclear plant operating company is predicting a dim future for nuclear power in the U.S.
William Von Hoene, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Exelon, said last week that he doesn't foresee any new nuclear plants being built in the United States due to their high operating costs.
"The fact is - and I don't want my message to be misconstrued in this part - I don't think we're building any more nuclear plants in the United States. I don't think it's ever going to happen," S&P Global quoted Van Hoene as saying at the annual U.S. Energy Association's meeting in Washington, D.C. "I'm not arguing for the construction of new nuclear plants. They are too expensive to construct, relative to the world in which we now live."
If the existing nuclear units in the U.S. can continue to operate and the technology can be developed to store energy created by renewable resources, despite the current economic issues, "then we won't need" new nuclear units and "we won't build them because they'll be too expensive," he said.
Exelon currently operates 23 reactors. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 99 nuclear reactors in 30 states. Together, they account for about 20 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S., per the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Von Hoene described nuclear power as "a bridge to a different kind of carbon-free world."
"I think it's very unlikely that absent some extraordinary change in environment or technology, that any nuclear plants beyond the Vogtle plant will be built in my lifetime, by any company," S&P Global quoted Van Hoene as saying, referring to a plant currently under construction in Georgia.
Von Hoene says because of nuclear plants' sizes and the security required to monitor them, the costs become prohibitive.