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New Jersey’s 3 nuclear power plants seek to extend licenses for another 20 years

The company that owns New Jersey’s three nuclear power plants said Wednesday it will seek federal approval to operate them for another 20 years.

The move comes as New Jersey makes a strong push to become the East Coast leader in offshore wind. But the three power plants run by PSEG Nuclear LLC provide nearly half of New Jersey’s electricity, and a licensing extension represents a potential hedge against not enough wind projects being available to meet the state’s needs.

An extension would enable the plants to run beyond 2050.

The company said it has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to seek renewed licenses for the Salem Generating Station Units 1 and 2, and the Hope Creek Generating Station. All are located on one site on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County.

It plans to file the extension request in the second quarter of 2027 but needed to alert the commission far in advance to allow it to prepare for the review. If approved by the NRC, the licenses for Salem Units 1 and 2 would be extended from 2036 and 2040 to 2056 and 2060, respectively, and Hope Creek station would be extended from the current 2046 expiration to 2066, the company said.

“For more than five decades, the nuclear generating stations in south Jersey have safely generated reliable, always-on carbon-free energy,” Charles McFeaters, president and chief nuclear officer of PSEG Nuclear, said in a statement. “Seeking to renew our licenses signifies our commitment to continuing to contribute to New Jersey’s clean energy future and serving as a vital economic engine for the local community.”

Beginning this year, a nuclear production tax credit included in the federal Inflation Reduction Act will provide nuclear generators with nine years of financial support through 2032.

And New Jersey officials also approved a $300 million customer-funded subsidy for the state’s nuclear industry in 2019 despite its utilities board determining that the industry was “viable” and not in need of a subsidy.

Both incentives were designed in part to support clean energy sources as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.

The company’s move to extend its operating licenses drew bipartisan support Wednesday from New Jersey lawmakers.

“Nuclear power is a clean resource that provides reliability and diversity to the state’s supply of energy,” said state Sen. John Burzichelli, a Democrat.

“South Jersey’s nuclear plants consistently, reliably and affordably deliver power for our state, day and night, regardless of the weather,” added Sen. Michael Testa, a Republican.

Source: The Associated Press