Keeping nuclear in the driver’s seat: Duke Energy seeks to renew nuclear licenses

Duke Energy submits Oconee Nuclear Station license renewal application

What if your driver’s license was about to expire, and there was no way to get another one? You still have a perfectly good car. You are a skilled and responsible driver. There are still places you need to go. 

The nuclear industry faced a similar challenge as plants began to reach the end of their initial 40-year licensing period; thus, a license renewal process was created in the 1990s to ensure that well-maintained, safely operated nuclear plants could apply for 20-year license extensions. 

As some nuclear plants in the U.S. begin to approach 60 years of safe operation, the natural question is, “What now?” Using the license renewal process, subsequent or second license renewal approval can extend the life of nuclear power plants from 60 years to 80 years.

Duke Energy is committed to renewing the operating licenses of all 11 reactors it operates in the Carolinas so they can safely and reliably operate for decades to come – it’s a significant step toward achieving the company’s aggressive carbon reduction goals to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 from electricity generation.

These goals cannot be achieved without nuclear power. As the company evolves, its nuclear fleet, which powers more than 8 million homes across the Carolinas, will continue to play a significant role in the clean energy transformation. Duke Energy’s nuclear plants provided more than 83% of the company’s carbon-free generation in 2020. 

Not only do our nuclear power plants provide reliable 24/7 electricity for customers, they also remain economic drivers for their communities, provide thousands of well-paying jobs, significant tax revenues, partnership opportunities and other benefits.
In June 2021, Duke Energy submitted a subsequent license renewal application for Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C. Oconee is currently operating under its 20-year license extension. If approved, the subsequent license renewal would allow the station to generate electricity through 2053 and 2054. 

Oconee is the company’s largest nuclear station, with three generating units that produce more than 2,500 megawatts for 1.9 million homes. Duke Energy will continue to develop license renewal applications for the remaining plants, and expects to submit those in approximately three-year intervals.

We look forward to serving our communities for decades to come.

Nuclear By The Numbers


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