, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 8, 2013

Effort to stop relicensing of Seabrook power station denied

U.S. court rules against petition filed by anti-nuclear groups


However, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied their appeal for review, saying after examining the laws involved and evidence, the groups’ arguments were not “persuasive.”

The three anti-nuclear energy advocacy groups had requested intervenor status, filing a contention claiming that Seabrook Station should not be granted the extension because there could be enough wind energy available in the future that would alleviate the need for the nuclear energy Seabrook Station generates.

But the court found wind energy off the coast of Maine could not at this time be considered a reasonable alternative to replace Seabrook Station’s significant contribution to the energy it provides to New England’s electric grid, for the technology to reliably produce, and cost-effectively store, offshore wind power at this time is not feasible.

NextEra Energy Seabrook provides 8.2 percent, or 1245 megawatts, of electricity to the regional network. As a required part of the company’s license extension application filed with the NRC in May, 2010, alternative energy sources had to be analyzed and reported on by Seabrook Station. Those alternatives included what the company considered “viable” alternative energy sources: natural gas- and oil-fired generation, along with another nuclear power plant and power purchase.

Seabrook Station’s parent company, NextEra, is the leading generator of wind power in North America, and wind power was discussed in its application. However, Seabrook Station’s application concluded wind power was not a reasonable alternative to replace the baseload of nuclear energy it provides during the period involved.

The court sided with the NRC and dismissed the petitioners’ argument because “in most cases a “reasonable” energy alternative is one that is currently commercially viable, or will become so in the relatively near future.”

The concept of alternatives must be technically and economically practical and feasible either currently or in the near future, according to the court ruling, and evidence of that was not sufficient to impress the court to grant the petitioners a review.

In addition, the court held that the NRC’s decision to reverse the ALSB ruling was “reasoned decisionmaking and was not arbitrary or capricious.” The petitioners’ arguments didn’t raise a “genuine dispute as to the technical feasibility or commercial viability of offshore wind farms in the relevant time period,” and was therefore denied, according to the court ruling.




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