Duke Power became the second American utility to seek a nuclear power licence extension, when it submitted an application on 6 July to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its three-unit Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, South Carolina (3 x 847 MWe PWRs). This spring, Baltimore Gas & Electric became the first US utility to announce it will seek a licence extension for its two-unit Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland. The Duke Power application is to extend Oconee’s operating licence for 20 years. The NRC granted the original 40-year operating licence in 1973 for the Oconee units. Oconee 1 began operating commercially in 1973, units 2 and 3 in 1974.
Mike Tuckman, Duke Power’s executive vice president for nuclear generation, called the action “a significant day for Duke Power and for the nuclear industry. We have been working towards this day for nearly 25 years.” Submission of the application to the NRC began a licence renewal process that could take as many as three to five years to complete.