Carbon-Free Nuclear Yields Another Stellar Year


As Duke Energy’s largest carbon-free energy resource, operating an efficient nuclear fleet is critical to customers and the environment.

Duke Energy’s 11 nuclear generating units posted a strong operating performance in 2017, providing North Carolina and South Carolina with nearly 90 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity – more than 50 percent of the electricity generation in those two states and about one-third of the company’s entire generation output.

Nuclear generation avoided the release of 82 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2017 – as much as is released from more than 17 million passenger vehicles during a year.

A few highlights:

  • The company’s fleet achieved a combined capacity factor of more than 95 percent, which is above the national average. It was the 19th consecutive year the fleet capacity factor exceeded 90 percent.
  • Both Catawba Nuclear Station and Harris Nuclear Plant set records for the amount of energy produced in a 12-month period.
  • Both units at McGuire Nuclear Station posted their shortest ever refueling outages, thus maximizing their availability for generation.
  • A unit at Brunswick Nuclear Plant achieved a record operating run of almost 712 consecutive days.
  • A unit at Oconee Nuclear Station accomplished a record operating run of more than 715 consecutive days, which is also a new company record.
  • The Robinson Nuclear Plant team completed the station’s 30th refueling outage, which included a main generator stator replacement, well ahead of schedule.

The company is currently evaluating the possibility of seeking additional license extensions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its currently operating nuclear plants. This would allow the generating units to operate up to 80 years if it makes economic sense and provides benefits to customers.

As for building new nuclear plants, Duke Energy notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it does not intend to build previously planned units in Levy County, Florida. Duke Energy maintains its licenses for two new nuclear units near Gaffney, S.C., as an option for future generation.