PSEG to apply for second licence renewals for New Jersey plants

08 April 2024

PSEG Nuclear LLC has notified US regulators of its intent to seek subsequent licence renewal for the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants, which together produce nearly half of New Jersey’s electricity and 85% of the state’s carbon-free generation.

PSEG's three New Jersey units: Hope Creek and Salem units 1 and 2 (Image: Peretz Partensky)

It formally informed the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 28 March that it expects to submit the application in the second quarter of 2027. This would mark the start of a comprehensive NRC review and approval process taking about two years to complete. If approved, the licences for Salem unit 1 and unit 2 would be extended from 2036 and 2040 to 2056 and 2060, respectively, while the single-unit Hope Creek's licence would be extended from its current 2046 expiration to 2066.

The two pressurised water reactors at Salem began commercial operation in 1976 (unit 1) and 1980 (unit 2), and the boiling water reactor at Hope Creek in 1986. The stations obtained their first 20-year operating licence renewals from the NRC in 2011. The units had all been under threat of premature closure before New Jersey passed the Zero Emissions Certificate Law in 2018, enabling the state to recognise and compensate eligible nuclear power plants for their zero-carbon attributes and contribution to fuel diversity.

"For more than five decades, the nuclear generating stations in South Jersey have safely generated reliable, always-on carbon-free energy," said PSEG Nuclear President and Chief Nuclear Officer Charles McFeaters. "Seeking to renew our licences 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."

"I'd like to recognise Congressman Bill Pascrell, the author of the federal nuclear production tax credit legislation in Congress, without which we would not be considering these investments in the site," he added.

The nuclear production tax credit, created in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, will provide nuclear generators with nine years of financial support until 2032. The pricing visibility it has provided "drove PSEG's decision to retain and grow our nuclear fleet via prudent capital investments and will keep our state’s carbon-free nuclear fleet viable for the long-term," the company said.

Over USD100 million in nuclear capital investment projects have already been approved and are in progress, including plant upgrades and a transition to a two-year operating cycle at Hope Creek. PSEG Nuclear is also developing detailed plans to implement power uprates for both Salem units and to upgrade and optimise the nuclear fleet’s turbine generator trains.

The units also deliver positive local economic impacts, the company added, directly employing some 1600 people with additional contract workers supporting refuelling outages and major project work each year and fostering an extensive indirect workforce throughout the community.

Salem is 57% owned by PSEG, with Constellation Energy owning the remaining 43%.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News