11 Maps That Explain Energy In America

3) Nuclear power has stagnated at 20 percent of electricity

Here are all the nuclear power plants in the contiguous United States:

EIA-nuclear-power-plants(Energy Information Administration)
Nuclear power plants in the United States.

As of 2015, there were 61 nuclear power plants in operation containing 99 reactors. Those reactors provide roughly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity — without emitting any heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Over the last two years, five nuclear reactors have closed down in Florida, Wisconsin, California, and Vermont, under pressure from cheaper natural gas and wind power, plus rising maintenance costs. (Indeed, the map above is slightly outdated, since Vermont Yankee just closed for good in December.) At the same time, many power plant operators have managed to squeeze more power out of their existing reactors. That practice is known as “uprating” and has helped nuclear power maintain its share of electricity.

Few people are building new reactors these days — there are just five in the works at existing sites in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. In general, the high cost of nuclear plants is a deterrent (these five reactors are all being built in highly regulated states where utilities can recoup their costs by raising rates). The big question is how many more existing plants might retire in the years ahead. The EPA’s new climate rules may give states some incentives to keep their nuclear reactors open for longer.

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