As of February 2011, the NRC has renewed the operating licenses for 62 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 20 units and nuclear plant owners of more than 17 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 95% of the 104 currently operating nuclear units in the U.S. This paper presents the status of the U.S. license renewal process, the positive trend in regulatory stability through 2007, and the negative trend in regulatory stability after 2007. From 2000 through 2007, the NRC was able to complete the license renewal review and issue renewed licenses in 30 months or less for 100% of the license renewal applicants. In fact, approximately 77% of the reviews were completed in 22 months or less. Since 2007, NRC reviews have become much less predictable, with 21% of the reviews exceeding 30 months and only 7% being completed in 22 months or less. In fact, some reviews currently underway have exceeded 60 months and the reviews remain incomplete. One of the main factors leading to the loss of timely regulatory reviews has been the NRC adjudicatory process for license renewal, although the safety and environmental review processes have also become less timely since 2007. The factors that contributed to the positive and the negative trends are presented.

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