As of February 2010, the NRC has renewed the operating licenses for 59 nuclear units, which will allow for up to 60 years of safe nuclear plant operation. In addition, the NRC has license renewal applications under review for 19 units and nuclear plant owners of more than 18 units have announced plans to submit license renewal applications over the next few years. This brings the total of renewed licenses and announced plans for license renewal to over 90% of the 104 currently operating nuclear units in the U.S. This paper presents some of the factors that have made the U.S. license renewal process so successful and how these same factors will be important for the second round of license renewal, which is expected to begin in the mid-2010’s. These long term operation factors include (1) the successful regulatory process and on-going continuous improvement of that process, (2) long-term safe plant operation, (3) stable low-cost generation of electricity, (4) high levels of sustained plant reliability, and (5) strong public opinion favorable to nuclear power plants.

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