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Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2000
Contact:, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

Nuclear Power Surges Into 21st Century Setting Production Records at Plants in 14 States

WASHINGTON—With commercial nuclear reactors in 14 states setting production records in 1999, the U.S. nuclear energy industry entered the 21st century demonstrating that nuclear power is a vital energy source that will prove its competitive strength in a restructured electricity marketplace.

Although consolidated industry data will not be available for another month, it is clear from individual utility reports that in 1999 U.S. nuclear power plants produced more electricity with greater efficiency than ever before. At least 15 of the nation’s 103 operating reactors set production records last year, in many cases contributing to records set by power stations with multiple reactors and to new marks established in four states by a company’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

"Clearly, 1999 was a breakthrough year for commercial nuclear power plants," said Joe F. Colvin, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer. "We saw a dramatic increase in electricity production that was roughly equivalent to adding six to seven large nuclear reactors to the grid."

Reactors or plants in the following states set production and/or efficiency records last year:

  • Alabama: Farley 1, owned by Southern Nuclear Operating Co. set a generation record. Browns Ferry 3, a Tennessee Valley Authority reactor, also set generation and capacity factor records, contributing to a new generation record for the Browns Ferry station.
  • Arizona: Palo Verde 1, 2 and 3, owned by Arizona Public Service Co., for the fifth consecutive year set a combined generation record with 30.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
  • Georgia: Hatch 2, owned by Southern Nuclear Operating Co.
  • Illinois: Braidwood 1, Dresden 2, and Quad Cities 1 and 2, owned by Commonwealth Edison Co., all set new generation marks. The two-unit Braidwood, Byron, Dresden, and Quad Cities stations established records as well, giving Commonwealth Edison its best year on record for its fleet of nuclear power plants.
  • Michigan: Fermi 2, owned by Detroit Edison Co.
  • Minnesota: Prairie Island 2, owned by Northern States Power Co., set capacity factor and generation records that contributed to a combined production record for the Monticello and Prairie Island plants of more than 13.2 billion kilowatt-hours.
  • Nebraska: Cooper, owned by the Nebraska Public Power District.
  • New York: FitzPatrick and Indian Point 3, owned by the New York Power Authority, set a combined production record of 13.8 billion kilowatt-hours.
  • North Carolina: Brunswick 1 and 2, and Shearon Harris, owned by Carolina Power & Light Co., combined with Robinson 2 in South Carolina to set the fleet’s sixth consecutive record for total generation, at 26 billion kilowatt-hours.
  • Ohio: Perry 1, owned by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.
  • Pennsylvania: Limerick 1 and Peach Bottom 2, owned by PECO Energy Co., set production records that contributed to a company generation record for their plants. The four reactors combined to produce more than 36 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. South Carolina: The two-unit Catawba and three-unit Oconee plants, owned by Duke Power Co., set station generation records.
  • Tennessee: Sequoyah 1, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, set generation and capacity factor records, and a new generation mark also was established for the two Sequoyah reactors combined.
  • Virginia: North Anna 1, owned by Dominion Generation, set a generation record, as did the company’s four-unit nuclear fleet overall. Total generation was 28.3 billion kilowatt-hours, and the units’ overall capacity factor was a record 95.2 percent.

Through November 1999, the average capacity factor for all 103 commercial reactors was 86 percent, an eight percent improvement over the same period in 1998. Capacity factor expresses the amount of electricity actually produced by a reactor as a percentage of the maximum production achievable if the reactor were operating at full power around the clock.

Through October 1999, the U.S. reactors that supply nearly one-fifth of our electricity needs generated nearly 600 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. That too is an eight percent increase over the same period in 1998, and it put the industry on track to surpass the previous year’s production total of 674 billion kilowatt-hours.

Attention to the year 2000 computer bug actually helped boost output for the year, as 99 of the nation’s 103 reactors were on-line during the rollover to the new millennium.

Because nuclear power already is cost-competitive with coal as the low-cost source of electricity as measured by production costs (an average of 2.13 cents per kilowatt-hour for nuclear in 1998), the industry’s strong 1999 safety and operating performance shows that the vast majority of reactors are thriving in a competitive electricity marketplace.

“Nuclear power plants already are cost-competitive where electricity markets clear at between 2.5 cents to 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour,” Colvin said. “Last year’s achievements provide rock-solid evidence that nuclear power plants are well-positioned to compete, and excel, in a restructured electric utility industry. Importantly, these production and efficiency gains are being matched with a high standard of safety.”


The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at