A Look at Companies That Own U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

Includes: CV, D, ETR, EXC, NEE, SO
by: Analytical Chemist

What companies own nuclear power plants in the United States? These are the companies with the liability of nuclear power – the small but scary possibility of a meltdown, problems with disposing of used nuclear fuel, and operating nuclear reactors in many cases beyond their original approved design. Some investors have driven down the stocks of nuclear reactor owners and operators noticeably since the earthquake in Japan – Exelon (NYSE:EXC), for example, is down 8% over the last month. Other investors reason that nuclear power is the source of 20% of U.S. electricity, does not produce greenhouse emissions, and is at least for existing plants a low-cost source of energy. These investors see Exelon’s 8% decline as a buying opportunity.

I have used data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) to generate what I believe to be a comprehensive list of companies owning nuclear power plants. I then consulted both the NEI and company web sites and annual reports to determine the total electricity generation capacity and the electricity generation capacity from nuclear power plants. The percentage of total electricity generated from nuclear power I calculated myself and checked against company figures where available. The market capitalization data is current as of April 12. This table will be useful for investors both optimistic and pessimistic on nuclear power.

(Click chart to enlarge)

Careful readers may notice a few changes from the last version of this table. In that version, the “nuclear power generation” column represented the sum of owned and operated nuclear power production. For reasons described above, I’ve updated this table to include only nuclear electricity generation capabilities owned by the companies in the table. This has produced marked changes in at least 5 of the companies, and this article will have a few comments describing those changes.

Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is the company with the greatest electricity generation capacity in the United States. In the old version of the table nuclear power represented 15% of its nearly 43 gigawatt (GW) electricity generation capacity. However, Southern Company operates a number of nuclear plants in Georgia, that it does not own for Oglethorpe Power Co., the city of Dalton, and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. When considering only nuclear facilities that Southern Company owns, the percentage of its generation capacity by nuclear sources falls to just 8.5%.

Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE:CV) was also profiled in an article I wrote on the five companies most dependent on nuclear power. While CV does get nearly 55% of its electricity from nuclear sources, much of this electricity is bought from other sources. Both its owned generating capacity as well as electricity purchased from other companies come from nuclear and non-nuclear sources. CV actually only owns about 100 MW of electricity generation, and 20% of this comes from its ownership interest in the Millstone 3 nuclear reactor in Waterford, Connecticut.

Dominion Resources (NYSE:D) actually operates the Millstone 3 nuclear reactor, and is the next company I wanted to mention. In the last article on this topic I did not include the two nuclear reactors owned by Virginia Electric & Power Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Resources. Adding the electricity generation capacity of these two reactors bumps up the percentage of owned electricity generation by Dominion from about 15% to 20.6%.

Similarly, Entergy (NYSE:ETR) has a variety of subsidiaries that own and operate various nuclear reactors in Arkansas and Louisiana. My last chart did not include these; the new one does. This inclusion makes the electricity generation capacity of Entergy nearly 42% derived from nuclear power plants.

Lastly, NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is the holding company of Florida Power & Light Company, and when its nuclear electricity generation capabilities are added to that of the parent company, 29% of its electricity generation comes from nuclear power.

Many of the other changes in the table were minor. There were some differences in using only the owned generating capacity of nuclear power, but the most prominent ones were described above. In a few cases such as Central Vermont Public Service (CV), both the nuclear and total electricity generation capacities were restated to include only facilities owned (in whole or in part) by the company. Electricity purchased from other sources outside the company was not included in the table. I hope this information will be useful to investors regardless of whether one is optimistic or pessimistic about the future of nuclear power in this country.

Disclosure: I am long D.