Licence renewal sought for Comanche Peak

04 October 2022

Vistra has applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20-year operating licence extension for the two-unit Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Texas. The current licences for Comanche Peak units 1 and 2 expire in 2030 and 2033, respectively.

Comanche Peak (Image: Vistra)

The plant - owned and operated by Vistra subsidiary Luminant Generation - comprises two 1200 MWe (net) pressurised water reactors, which began operating in 1990 and 1993, respectively.

The plant has a capacity to power about 1.2 million homes in normal conditions and 480,000 homes in periods of peak demand, Vistra noted. Since it began operating, Comanche Peak has generated more than 582 million megawatt-hours of electricity.

"Comanche Peak is one of the lowest-cost and highest-performing nuclear power plants in the country and is a large, dispatchable source of carbon-free electricity," said Vistra President and CEO Jim Burke. "Renewing the licences of this plant is critical for grid reliability and our environment and is a benefit to the economy, the local community, and our company."

He added, "Our country is navigating a massive transition to cleaner sources of electricity, and at the same time, we cannot lose sight of reliability. Nuclear energy is uniquely positioned to provide that balance of emission-free power and always-on baseload capabilities. Our team stands ready to continue a proud tradition of safety, dependability, and operational excellence at Comanche Peak, and we are excited to be filing this application for extension."

If granted, the licence extension would allow Comanche Peak 1 and 2 to operate until 2050 and 2053, respectively.

The NRC is authorised under the US Atomic Energy Act to issue licences for commercial power reactors to operate for up to 40 years - a time period based on economic and antitrust considerations, rather than limitations of nuclear technology. Licences can be renewed for an additional 20 years for an operating lifetime of 60 years: almost all of the USA's currently operating nuclear reactors have already renewed or applied to renew their licences for up to 60 years of operation.

Subsequent licence renewals cover a further 20 years of operation beyond 60 years and focus on the management of plant ageing during the 60-80 year operating period, especially the effects of extended operation and high radiation exposure on reactor parts, concrete containment structures, piping and electrical cables, among other things.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News