TOWN OF CARLTON - The Kewaunee nuclear power plant will close next year, its owner says.
Dominion, which owns the power plant, says it will close and decommission the Kewaunee Power Station beginning in the second quarter of next year. The company says it has been trying to sell the plant since April of 2011, but has not been able to find a buyer.
The decision will put hundreds of people out of work.
The vice president of nuclear operations at Dominion says his company tried all it could to sell this plant on Highway 42 in the Town of Carlton.
But Daniel Stoddard says the only economical solution was to close it down permanently.
"Being a small unit and being somewhat geographically isolated from other company assets, and not having other units around for other economies of scale, put the plant in a very challenging situation economically," said Stoddard.
Low Midwest power prices also played a role in the closure. The plant says it will stop operating in about six months. Layoffs will begin as production is phased out.
"We haven't been able to lay out all the options for all the employees," explained Stoddard. "Things will be put in place from a benefit standpoint to encourage employees to stay."
Employees were told Monday morning about the closure. Local union representatives say the company hasn't reached termination agreements yet with workers.
"This is going to affect our guys that are out here no doubt," said Mike Augustine with the Local 400 Plumbers and Steamfitters union. "We're going to have to end up putting the different units to work and maybe the different contractors that will maybe move from here down to Point Beach (nuclear plant in Two Rivers), depending on what plays out here."
Kewaunee's mayor says losing Dominion impacts more than just the company's 650 employees and related industries.
"The people spend money here, not only restaurants, but buying gas and they visit all the local establishments," said Mayor John Blaha. "It's going to have a huge impact, especially if a number of these people need to re-locate."
Dominion says it will start an environmentally safe decommissioning plan after the plant closes down. The nuclear fuel will be transferred to cooling pools. Then it will go into dry storage casks. The fuel will be stored on site until the federal government takes control of the waste. The company says it will be 60 years before the land can be used for something else.
Kewaunee Power Station began running in 1974. Richmond, Va.-based Dominion bought the plant in 2005.
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