The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved PSEG Nuclear's request today to extend the operating licenses of Salem Generating Station Units 1 and 2 an additional 20 years.
"The license renewal of Salem is part of our ongoing commitment to provide safe, reliable energy to New Jersey and the region," said Tom Joyce, president and chief nuclear officer of PSEG Nuclear. "Today's milestone is the direct result of our employees past and present who have played a key role in our success."
PSEG Nuclear filed its request for license renewal in August 2009. During the past two years, a dedicated team coordinated site inspections and audits by the NRC, provided volumes of additional information to the regulator and participated in several meetings where the public was provided with opportunities to offer comment on the proposed license extension.
"Many members of the public came out to support us during this process, speaking during the public meetings and writing letters supporting our continued operation," explained Joyce. "We are pleased that the community continues to have confidence in our operation and we will work hard to maintain their trust over the extended life of the stations."
Each Salem unit has a net generating capacity of approximately 1175 megawatts. Salem Unit 1's previous 40 year operating license was set to expire in 2016 with Unit 2's operating license expiring in 2020. The plants will now be licensed through 2036 and 2040 respectively.
Under the Atomic Energy Act, the NRC originally issued licenses for commercial nuclear reactors for 40 years. This timeframe was based on the amortization period generally used by electric utility companies for large capital investments.
The NRC is also expected to announce a decision within the next few weeks regarding the license renewal of PSEG Nuclear's single unit Hope Creek Generating Station.
Located together on a 740-acre site in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County, the two Salem units andHope Creek comprise the second largest commercial nuclear power facility in the United States. Together the three nuclear units generate enough power for approximately three million homes each day.
In New Jersey, nuclear power has played a leading role in meeting the state's energy needs. In fact, more than 50 percent of the state's electricity comes from nuclear power.
Salem and Hope Creek are subject to an ongoing, rigorous program of oversight and inspection by the NRC, led by four full-time inspectors onsite, as well as supplemental inspectors from the NRC regional headquarters. The plants also have their own extensive programs in preventive and corrective maintenance, equipment testing and monitoring and equipment replacement.
Over the past five years, PSEG Nuclear has invested more than $525 million in equipment upgrades and enhancements to ensure the continued safe operation of the two Salem units.
In addition to license renewal, PSEG Nuclear continues to explore the possibility of building an additional nuclear plant in Salem County. In May 2010, the company filed an application for an early site permit (ESP). Though not a commitment to build, the ESP would recognize the proposed location to be suitable from a safety, environmental and emergency planning standpoint. An NRC decision on the ESP is not expected until late 2013.