April 14, 2016
NEW ORLEANS – Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) announced today that it intends to refuel the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., next year to continue supplying power to New England, then cease operations on May 31, 2019. The decision narrows the previously announced shutdown timeframe of 2017-2019.
“We’re pleased that we will be able to keep our team of hardworking, professional employees actively engaged in safe operations for the next three years and in a return to regular NRC and industry oversight,” said John Dent, Pilgrim’s site vice president. “During this period, Pilgrim will continue safely to provide clean, emissions-free electricity to our neighbors.
“Another benefit of the three-year window before shutdown is that Pilgrim will continue to be a good neighbor, providing economic benefits and charitable donations. In just the past four years, Pilgrim has donated more than $1.5 million to local, regional and statewide non-profit organizations,” Dent added.
The decision to remain in operation for another three years means that Pilgrim will conduct a refueling outage in the spring of 2017. Refueling outages, which the plant conducts every other year, result in significant positive economic impacts for the region. The 2015 refueling outage resulted in a $70 million investment in the plant, including $25 million in new equipment. Nearly 2,000 workers, including 1,184 extra contract workers, performed hundreds of activities. The enlarged workforce at Pilgrim increased the plant’s economic contributions to Plymouth and surrounding communities through the purchase of hotel rooms, meals and tourism activities.
Planning for decommissioning will begin with the formation of a dedicated team of individuals with both decommissioning and Pilgrim plant experience. This team will develop a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report describing planned decommissioning activities, a schedule, cost estimate, and environmental impacts. That plan, due no later than two years after shutdown, is a public document sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review. Entergy will also create a Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen’s Advisory/Engagement Panel to share information and educate the public. More information on decommissioning can be found at www.pilgrimpower.com.
Entergy remains committed overall to nuclear power, whose benefits include carbon-free, reliable power that is cost- effective over the long term, contributes to supply diversity and energy security as part of a balanced energy portfolio and provides almost two-thirds of America’s clean-air electricity.
About the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and Entergy
The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station generates 680 megawatts of nearly carbon-free electricity, enough to power more than 600,000 homes. Pilgrim began generating electricity in 1972.
Additional information regarding today’s announcement is available on Entergy’s corporate website at www.entergy.com.
Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11.5 billion and more than 13,000 employees.
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The intended shutdown date for Pilgrim is May 31, 2019.
Announcement of the date is in accordance with the company’s October 13, 2015, communication to employees and local officials that Pilgrim would permanently cease operations no later than June 1, 2019, and would then begin decommissioning. On the same day, Entergy reported the planned closure to the operator of the electric grid, the New England Independent System Operator, and to Governor Baker and other federal, state and local elected officials. Entergy notified the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
We intend to conduct the refueling outage in the spring of 2017. This is a financial investment by Entergy, and will allow us to serve as a capacity resource until May 31, 2019.
Refueling outages, which the plant conducts every other year, result in significant positive economic impacts for the region. The 2015 refueling outage resulted in a $70 million investment in the plant, including $25 million in new equipment. Nearly 2,000 workers, including 1,184 extra contract workers, performed hundreds of activities. The enlarged workforce at Pilgrim increased the plant’s economic contributions to Plymouth and surrounding communities through hotel rooms, meals and tourism activities.
Now that we have a shutdown date of May 31, 2019, Entergy will begin planning for Pilgrim’s ultimate decommissioning. This begins with the formation of a dedicated team of individuals with both decommissioning and Pilgrim plant experience. This team will develop a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) that includes a description of planned decommissioning activities, a schedule, a detailed cost estimate, and discussion of environmental impacts. That plan is a public document and will be sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review. No plans for the ultimate end use of the site have been discussed or developed, but we will work closely with the Town of Plymouth and the soon-to-be-formed Nuclear Decommissioning Citizen’s Advisory Panel on potential future uses.
We expect to continue operations with basically the same level of staffing until the plant is shut down, at which time we will transition into decommissioning. Reduced staffing of the plant will be required for years after shutdown, as it has been at Vermont Yankee. There will still be important work to do. Staffing levels will be reduced as the plant moves through the stages of decommissioning.
Entergy will work with employees at Pilgrim to ensure appropriate levels of staffing remain in place to continue to operate the plant safely, in accordance with our strict licensing standards and our overriding commitment to employee and public health and safety.
The economics simply do not support continued operation. Pilgrim’s revenues continue to be significantly impacted by low wholesale energy prices driven by historically low natural gas prices.
The decision to close Pilgrim was based not on operational issues, but financial factors.
The company is retiring the Pilgrim plant because of continued and projected low energy prices, with no expectation of market structure improvements, along with increased costs.
By notifying the Independent System Operator – New England that it will not participate in the forward capacity market after May 2019, Pilgrim is giving up its right to sell power into the ISO-NE market once its current obligation to supply electricity ends. ISO-NE has completed a reliability study and has determined that there is no significant reliability impact to the grid when Pilgrim retires on May 31, 2019. We did not participate in FCA 10 and have no obligation to serve as a capacity resource after May 31, 2019.
As of April 1, 2016, the plant employed 609 people.