Powering the Country
Today’s nuclear energy facilities produce 64 percent of America’s clean, carbon-free electricity and there are several around the U.S. that are notable for producing the largest amount. Here, our electrical experts explore the power behind the top nuclear (and one hydroelectric) power plants:
Palo Verde Nuclear Station
Power generated in 2015: 32,525,595 mWhs
Located in Tonopath, Arizona about 45 miles west of Phoenix, this nuclear power station is the largest power plant in the U.S. by net generation. Its average electric power of 3.3 gigawatts can power the homes of around four million people and it’s actually the only large nuclear power plant in the world that’s not located near a large body of water.
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant
Power generated in 2015: 27,669,694 mWhs
located on the Tennessee River near Decatur and Athens, Alabama, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Station was built in 1966 and is named for a ferry that operated at the same site until the middle of the 1900s. Its three boiling-water reactors were the first in the world to produce more than 1,000 megawatts (or 1 billion watts) of power and it’s currently the second-largest power producer in the U.S.
Oconee Nuclear Station
Power generated in 2015: 21,939,740 mWhs
This nuclear power station sits on Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina and has produced more than 500 million megawatt-hours of electricity. Operated by Duke Energy, the Oconee Nuclear Station is the first nuclear station in the U.S. to have achieved this level of energy production and unlike many other stations, it relies on a hydroelectric station instead of a diesel generator for backup power.
West County Energy Center
Power generated in 2015: 20,428,360 mWhs
One of the newest power plants in the country, the West County Energy Center was built in 2009 and reached build completion in 2011. Located in Palm Beach County, Florida, this natural gas power plant is one of the cleanest of its kind in the U.S. In addition, the plant uses reclaimed water as its primary water source.
Braidwood Nuclear Station
Power generated in 2015: 19,740,011 mWhs
Head to Will County in northeastern Illinois and you’ll find the Braidwood Nuclear Station. Serving Chicago and its surrounding areas, this power plant is the largest nuclear plant in the state and is owned by Exelon. Built in 1988, the plant sits on 4,457 acres and when both power units are put together, they can power the homes of more than two million people.
Byron Nuclear Generating Station
Power generated in 2015: 19,478,139 mWhs
Also in Illinois and also owned by Exelon, the Byron Nuclear Generating Station is located in Ogle County about two miles east of the Rock River. This power plant has two powerful units that produce a comparable amount of energy to the Braidwood Nuclear Station and its twin cooling towers rise nearly 500 feet into the air.
South Texas Project Nuclear Station
Power generated in 2015: 19,400,553 mWhs
Sitting on a 12,200-acre site on the Colorado River, the South Texas Project Nuclear Station is located about 90 miles southwest of Houston in Matagorda County. Beginning operation in 1988, the plant features two reactors that produce enough electricity to power around two million Texas homes. In addition, this plant is actually considered one of the safest places to work.
Limerick Nuclear Generating Station
Power generated in 2015: 18,904,377 mWhs
Sitting next to the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station. Also owned by Exelon, this power plant is built on a 600-acre site and its two reactor units began power the area in 1984 and 1989. Back in May 2006, president George W. Bush actually toured the facility and discussed the role of nuclear power.
Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Station
Power generated in 2015: 18,838,602 mWhs
The Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Station is the only power plant on this list that was built for hydroelectric power. Finished in 1942 in Washington, the facility features three powerhouses that actually make it the largest power station in the U.S. by nameplate capacity. When it comes to yearly production, it comes in behind other major plants because of the fluctuation of the Columbia River’s power.