Oyster Creek to Close 10 Years Early
Plant's owner reaches deal with state to close in 2019, escape cooling tower requirement
The Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Twp., America's oldest operating nuclear power plant, will shut down in 2019 - ten years before its federal operating license expires.
"The plant faces a unique set of economic conditions and changing environmental regulations that make ending operations in 2019 the best option for the company, employees and shareholders," said Chris Crane, President and Chief Operating Officer of Exelon Corp, the plant's owner. A specific retirement date in 2019 has not been set.
According to Exelon, the decision to shutter the plant is "based on the cumulative effect of negative economic factors which has caused Oyster Creek's value to decline."
These factors include low market prices and demand, and the plant's need for continuing large capital expenditures, a statement from the company said. In addition to market conditions, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection was poised to require the plant to install cooling towers to recirculate cooling water instead of drawing more than a billion gallons of water from Barnegat Bay each day. Exelon publicly stated it would shut down the plant before installing towers, estimating the cost of the towers at $800 million. Environmental groups disputed that figure.
Due to Exelon's decision to retire the plant early, the DEP will not require the company to install cooling towers.
Oyster Creek employs nearly 700 workers, provides enough around-the-clock electricity for 600,000 New Jersey homes and began commercial operations in 1969. The plant is one of the largest employers in Ocean County, and annually provides more than $70 million in wages, property taxes and purchases of goods and services from New Jersey businesses.