NEI: U.S. nuke plants set records for production, efficiency in 2007

Washington, D.C., Feb. 7, 2008 — U.S. nuclear power plants posted all-time record highs in electricity production and efficiency in 2007, according to preliminary figures released by the Nuclear Energy Institute. U.S. nuclear plants generated approximately 807 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity last year, exceeding by more than two percent the previous record-high of 788.5 billion kwh of electricity set in 2004.

The 104 nuclear plants operating in 31 states also achieved a record-setting average capacity factor — a measure of on-line availability of power. The 2007 average of 91.8 percent surpassed the 2004 record of 90.1 percent, according to preliminary figures. Capacity factor is the ratio of electricity actually produced compared to the theoretical maximum electricity a power plant can produce operating at full power year-round.

The industry’s average electricity production cost, encompassing expenses for uranium fuel and operations and maintenance, also set a record low last year. The average production cost was 1.68 cents/kwh in 2007, besting the previous low of 1.72 cents/kwh set in 2005, according to preliminary data.

Last year also marked the ninth straight year that the industry’s average electricity production cost has been below two cents/kwh, and the seventh straight year that nuclear plants have had the lowest production costs of any major source of electricity, including coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, said the NEI.

Final figures on the industry’s 2007 performance are expected this spring.

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