Court ruling: Offshore wind not an alternative for baseload generation

This important ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) finding that offshore wind is not a reasonable alternative for baseload generation produced by nuclear power plants. The NRC further concluded that the intermittent nature of wind power means that it cannot be considered baseload without effective energy storage mechanisms, and that storage technology is “not sufficiently demonstrated at this time.”

NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC, which operates a nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire, applied to renew its operating license. NextEra submitted a required environmental report that concluded that offshore wind electric generation was not a reasonable alternative to the extended licensing of Seabrook. Several environmental groups (collectively, Petitioners) questioned and sought a hearing on NextEra's environmental report.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board admitted the contention, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied the admission of the contention, which resulted in Petitioners not being entitled to have a hearing on the merits about their contention that generation of electricity from offshore wind was a reasonable alternative source of baseload energy to the relicensing of Seabrook.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals denied Petitioners' petition for review, holding (1) the NRC did not misapply case law interpreting the National Environmental Policy Act in formulating its contention-admissibility standard; and (2) NRC's conclusion that the contention was inadmissible was not arbitrary or capricious, and there was no basis in law to set it aside.

The order by the court can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

Beyond Nuclear Decision

Download file (111 KB) pdf

JAN 4 2013
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