Licence renewal sought for Fermi 2

08 May 2014

DTE Energy has applied to the US nuclear regulator for a 20-year extension to the operating licence of the Fermi 2 plant in Michigan. If granted, the single-unit plant could operate until 2045.

Fermi 2 NPP 460 (NRC)
The Fermi 2 plant (Image: NRC)

The original licence for Fermi 2 - a single boiling water reactor - was issued in 1985 and granted permission the plant to operate until March 2025. Plant owner DTE Energy has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a renewal of the licence for a further 20 years.

Licence renewals

Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the NRC is allowed to issue licences for nuclear power reactors to operate for up to 40 years. Regulations allow the NRC to extend licences for additional 20-year periods provided the reactor is deemed safe to continue operating. There is no restrictions on how many times a licence can be extended.

The NRC has so far renewed the licences of over two-thirds of the USA's 100 operating nuclear power reactor and is currently reviewing a further 13. As of the end of last year, 20 reactors had entered the period of extended operation between 40 and 60 years.

DTE said the application includes safety and environmental evaluations of the plant which involved more than two years of engineering reviews to ensure Fermi 2 can safely operate until the age of 60.

The NRC is reviewing the application to determine if it is sufficiently complete to begin extensive safety and environmental reviews. The NRC process to decide on the licence renewal takes about two years.

Joe Plona, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at Fermi 2, commented, "For more than 26 years, we've made electricity in Monroe County, and we want to be part of the community for decades to come. This application is a renewal of our commitment to continue to serve our customers with our energy and be a force for growth in the community."

During a recent refuelling and maintenance outage, DTE implemented a power uprate at Fermi, increasing its gross generating capacity from 1179 to 1198 MWe.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News