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Kewaunee Nuclear Plant Pulls Plug After Nearly 40 Years Of Service

After nearly 40 years of service to Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, the Kewaunee Power Station has shut down for good.

Dominion senior vice president of nuclear operations Daniel Stoddard says the process to power down the 556-megawatt nuclear plant began Tuesday at 7:41 a.m. and at 11:07 a.m. operators opened the circuit breakers that connect the output of the main generator with the Midwest power grid.

Stoddard described his emotions as a mix of sadness and pride.

The shutdown is a short step compared to the decades-long decommissioning process.

In the weeks ahead, station personnel will begin removing all 121 fuel assemblies from the reactor and storing them in the used fuel pool before commencing activities to place the unit in SAFSTOR, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved method for long-term monitoring and storage of a closed nuclear unit. Under federal law, the company must decommission the unit and return the site to a green field condition within 60 years.

Stoddard says although Dominion is planning on the SAFSTOR option, company officials are currently evaluating options for a more rapid decommissioning.

Stoddard says layoff of employees will come in waves, with 202 of the plant's approximately 630 workers being laid off at the end of the month. He says another 130 layoffs will occur in a couple of extra waves over the rest of this year with an additional staff reduction in September 2014 to get down to around 100 workers, a level they'll remain at until the fuel is offloaded into dry storage.

Stoddard says during its nearly 40 years of operation the station supplied over 148 million megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power the entire state of Wisconsin for two years.

Dominion announced last fall that it would close the station and decommission it because the company was unable to grow a Midwestern nuclear fleet to take advantage of economies of scale and Kewaunee's power purchase agreements were ending at a time of projected low wholesale electricity prices in the region.


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