Group warns over a third of U.S. nuclear power plants could retire

Nov 8 (Reuters) - More than a third of U.S. nuclear power plants could shut for economic reasons over the next decade, a greater number than most analysts expect, according to a study released on Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a public policy group that focuses on environmental and energy issues. While those retirements are not expected to pose a threat to the U.S. electrical grid's reliability, UCS said, the problem is the potential replacement of their low-carbon electricity with plants burning fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal. Cheap gas from record shale production and rising use of renewable energy has kept electric prices low in recent years, hurting nuclear and coal operators. Owners of most of the reactors that UCS said were most at risk of shutting were not immediately available for comment. Michigan energy company DTE Energy Co said its Fermi reactor is licensed to operate until 2045 and the company intends to continue operating the plant until at least then. Fermi is one of the units on the UCS list. The Trump Administration is pursuing policies to try to keep nuclear and coal plants operating, and several states have passed laws subsidizing nuclear power plants.

Over the past five years, seven reactors have shut, with another 10 of the nation's 98 remaining reactors expected to shut in the next five years.

Nuclear power provides about 20 percent of the nation's electricity.

The following lists the U.S. nuclear plants that UCS believes are either unprofitable or at risk. Capacity of the plants is in megawatts. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

Plant Name Units State Capacity Owner/Operator UCS Assessment (MW) (2018-2022) Arkansas Nuclear One 2 AR 1,854 Entergy Marginal Beaver Valley 2 PA 1,867 FirstEnergy Marginal Byron 2 IL 2,346 Exelon Marginal Callaway 1 MO 1,236 Ameren

Unprofitable

Columbia Generating 1 WA 1,210 Energy Northwest

Unprofitable

Cooper 1 NE 772 NPPD

Unprofitable

Davis-Besse 1 OH 908 FirstEnergy

Unprofitable

Diablo Canyon 2 CA 2,240 PG&E Firm

Retirement

Dresden 2 IL 1,805 Exelon Marginal Duane Arnold 1 IA 622 NextEra Firm

Retirement

Fermi 1 MI 1,161 DTE

Unprofitable

Grand Gulf 1 MS 1,428 Entergy

Unprofitable

H.B. Robinson 1 SC 797 Duke

Unprofitable

Indian Point 1 NY 2,071 Entergy Firm

Retirement

Monticello 1 MN 646 Xcel

Unprofitable

Palisades 1 MI 820 Entergy Firm

Retirement

Perry 1 OH 1,268 FirstEnergy

Unprofitable

Pilgrim 1 MA 683 Entergy Firm

Retirement

Point Beach 2 WI 1,206 NextEra Marginal Prairie Island 2 MN 1,092 Xcel

Unprofitable

River Bend 1 LA 968 Entergy

Unprofitable

Sequoyah 2 TN 2,333 TVA Marginal Shearon Harris 1 NC 973 Duke

Unprofitable

Susquehanna Nuclear 2 PA 2,593 Talen Marginal Three Mile Island 1 PA 827 Exelon

Unprofitable

V.C. Summer 1 SC 992 SCANA Marginal Waterford 3 1 LA 1,177 Entergy

Unprofitable

Wolf Creek 1 KS 1,205 Evergy

Unprofitable

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio)