Kewaunee Nuclear Generating Station

Nathaniel Kucera
March 22, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018

Nuclear Energy in Wisconsin

Fig. 1: Kewaunee Nuclear Generating Station in Carlton, Wisconsin. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Wisconsin currently has two nuclear reactors in commission at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant, located in Two Rivers, off Lake Michigan. At the Point Beach Nuclear Plant, it generates 15.7% of the states electricity. [1] Currently Wisconsin sources 51.7% of its energy from coal, 24.3% from natural gas, and nuclear is third at 15.7%. [1] This plant also produces 72.1% of the states emission-free electricity. [1] The Point Beach Nuclear Plant is the only working plant in Wisconsin, as the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor and Kewaunee Nuclear Generating Station have been closed.

Kewaunee Plant

Virginia-based energy producer and transporter, Dominion owns three U.S. nuclear power plants: North Anna and Surry in Virginia and Millstone in Connecticut. [2] The utility acquired the Kewaunee plant (see Fig. 1) in Carlton, Wisconsin in July 2005 from joint owners Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Alliant for $192 million. [2]

Kewaunee was run as a merchant power plant that sold its generated power to two companies, but when those companies did not renew power contracts, and Dominion was unable to buy other nuclear plants in the region to help make the purchase of Kewaunee economical, the utility put the plant up for sale in April 2011. [3] No buyers took the deal, so Dominion made the decision to close the plant in October 2012. [2] Residents of Carlton had thought the plant would operate for decades, especially since it had been granted a 20-year license extension in 2011. [3] Carlton had appraised the value of the nuclear plant and its surrounding acreage at $457 million. [4]


Dominion has chosen the SAFSTOR decommissioning option. Dominion has estimated decommissioning to cost a total of $937 million, which includes the costs for license termination, spent fuel management and site restoration. [2] SAFSTOR is a federally approved decommissioning process in which complete plant dismantling is deferred and the nuclear facility maintained and monitored in a condition that allows the radioactivity to decay; afterwards, the plant is dismantled and the property decontaminated. [5]

Decommissioning involves two major actions: nuclear waste disposal and decontamination to reduce residual radioactivity. Nuclear rods still contain energy, and the radiation needs time to decay before hazardous materials can be moved into safe storage. [6] Additionally, anything contaminated with small levels of radiation, such as pipes or tools are sent to special low-level nuclear waste facilities around the country. The remaining non-radiated waste can be disposed of in regular landfills. [5]

In the beginning of 2017, employees at the station will begin to safely transfer used nuclear fuel from the facility's spent fuel pool into dry storage containers as part of the company's ongoing decommissioning effort. [4]

© Nathaniel Kucera. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] K. Lydersen, "Whats the Future of Nuclear in the Midwest? A State-by-State Look," Midwest Energy News, 16 Aug 16.

[2] S. Dotson, "Lessons Learned from Kewaunee's Closing," Power Engineering, 25 Jun 14.

[3] M. L. Wald, "As Price of Nuclear Energy Drops, a Wisconsin Plant Is Shut," New York Times, 7 May 13.

[4] S. Finucane, "Nuclear Plant's Closure Leaves Wisconsin Town Fighting for its Life," The Tribune (San Luis Obispo), 30 Aug 16.

[5] "Decommissioning a Nuclear Plant Can Cost $1 Billion and Take Decades," Reuters, 13 Jun 11.

[6] X. M. Lee, "Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants," Stanford University, 18 Feb 15.