Entergy Announces Closure of FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

Entergy Corp. said on Nov. 2 that it would retire the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Scriba, N.Y., at the end of its current fuel cycle due to the facility’s “continued deteriorating economics.”

The plant—located in Oswego County on the southeast shore of Lake Ontario—is an 838-MW boiling water reactor commissioned in July 1975. FitzPatrick’s operating license was renewed through Oct. 17, 2034, in 2008, but like Entergy’s Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim facilities, it will not come close to reaching its license expiration.

The facility employs more than 600 workers. “We recognize the consequences of the shutdown for our employees and the surrounding community and pledge to do our best to support both during this transition,” said Leo Denault, chairman and CEO of Entergy.

The company said that it had worked with New York State officials during the past two months “to reach a constructive and mutually beneficial agreement to avoid a shutdown.” In the end, it was unsuccessful.

Entergy noted that the following factors had hurt FitzPatrick’s economic viability.

  • Reduced revenue as a result of low current and long-term wholesale energy prices, driven by record low gas prices due to the plant’s proximity to the Marcellus shale formation.
  • A market design that fails to “recognize or adequately compensate” nuclear generators for the benefits provided, such as fuel diversity, climate-related advantages, grid reliability, and large-scale energy generation.
  • The high-cost structure carried by the plant as a single unit.
  • Excess power supply and low demand in the local region.

“Given the financial challenges our merchant power plants face from sustained wholesale power price declines and other unfavorable market conditions, we have been assessing each asset,” said Denault. “As part of this review, we previously announced the closure of the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Massachusetts and have now decided that despite good operational performance, market conditions require us to also close the FitzPatrick nuclear plant.”

The Entergy Nuclear subsidiary owns, operates, supports, and provides management services to a fleet of 11 reactors in nine locations in the U.S. FitzPatrick is expected to close in late 2016 or early 2017. When Pilgrim follows—expected by June 2019—Entergy will have only one nuclear facility remaining in operation in the northeastern U.S.: the Indian Point Energy Center.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)