The biggest nuclear power plants in the US

31 July 2019 (Last Updated January 28th, 2020 10:19)

Six of the biggest nuclear plants in the US have generated more than 2.6GW and supply electricity to more than two million homes in the country. Power-technology profiles the top ten nuclear power plants in the US, based on installed capacity.

The biggest nuclear power plants in the US
Palo Verde Generating Station is the biggest nuclear power plant in the US with a capacity of 3.93GW.

Top ten nuclear power plants in the US: Ranking the biggest

10. Byron Nuclear Power Station – 2.34GW

9. McGuire Nuclear Power Plant – 2.38GW

8. Braidwood Generating Station – 2.39GW

7. Vogtle Nuclear Power Station – 2.43GW

6. Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant – 2.6GW

5. Oconee Nuclear Station – 2.61GW

4. South Texas Project Electric Generating Station – 2.7GW

3. Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station – 2.77GW

2. Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant – 3.4GW

1. Palo Verde Generating Station – 3.93GW

10. Byron Nuclear Power Station – 2.34GW

Byron nuclear power station is equipped with two Westinghouse pressurised water reactor (PWR) units. Image courtesy of Christopher Peterson.

Owned and operated by Exelon Nuclear, the Byron nuclear power station in Illinois, US, generates enough electricity to serve more than two million American households.

Construction of the Byron generating station was started in 1975 while first power from the plant was produced in 1985.

Situated approximately 32km south-west of Rockford, the Byron nuclear power plant is equipped with two Westinghouse pressurised water reactor (PWR) units commissioned in September 1985 and August 1987. The Byron reactors are licensed to operate until 2044 and 2046.

9. McGuire Nuclear Power Plant – 2.38GW

top ten nuclear power plants
McGuire nuclear power plant supplies electricity to approximately 1.7 million American households. Image courtesy of Duke Energy Corporation.

The McGuire nuclear power plant, operating since 1981, is located on Lake Norman in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, US.

Owned and operated by Duke Energy, the plant generates enough electricity to power approximately 1.7 million American households.

The McGuire nuclear power plant is developed with two PWR units of 1,215MW (gross) each. Construction of the plant began in 1971 while the McGuire-1 and McGuire-2 reactor units were respectively commissioned in 1981 and 1984.

8. Braidwood Generating Station – 2.39GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Braidwood Generating Station is owned and operated by Exelon Nuclear. Image courtesy of AgriLife Today.

The 2.39GW Braidwood generating station is located near Braceville, Illinois. Construction on the plant was started in 1976 and completed in 1987.

Owned and operated by Exelon Nuclear, the facility generates enough electricity to serve approximately two million households.

The Braidwood power station is equipped with two Westinghouse PWR units commissioned in July and October 1988, respectively. The Braidwood-1 has the operating licence until 2046 while Braidwood-2 is licensed to be operated until 2047.

7. Vogtle Nuclear Power Station – 2.43GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Vogtle nuclear power station is being expanded to add two new units of 1.25GW each. Image courtesy of Charles C Watson Jr.

The Vogtle nuclear power station near Waynesboro in eastern Georgia is jointly owned by Georgia Power (45.7%), Oglethorpe Power Corporation (30%), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7%), and Dalton Utilities (1.6%).

The plant is equipped with two 1,215MW PWR units supplied by Westinghouse. Construction works on the plant were started in 1974 while the first unit entered commercial service in May 1987, followed by the second in May 1989.

Two Westinghouse AP1000 advanced PWR units of 1,250MW (gross) capacity each, namely Vogtle-3 and Vogtle-4 are currently under construction at the site, the completion of which in 2020 will make Vogtle the biggest nuclear power facility in the US.

6. Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant – 2.6GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Susquehanna nuclear power plant comprises two boiling water reactors of 1,300MW capacity each. Image courtesy of Jakec.

The Susquehanna nuclear power plant is located in Salem Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It is jointly owned by Talen Energy (90%) and Allegheny Electric Cooperative (10%) and operated by Susquehanna Nuclear.

The plant comprises two boiling water reactors of 1,300MW (gross) capacity each and generates enough electricity to power two million households.

The Susquehanna-1 reactor unit was commissioned in November 1982 while Susquehanna-2 was grid-connected in July 1984.

5. Oconee Nuclear Station – 2.62GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Oconee Nuclear Station is the second nuclear power plant in the US to get a licence renewal for another 20 years. Image courtesy of Duke Energy Corporation.

The Oconee Nuclear Station is installed with three PWR units, which have a combined capacity of approximately 2.62GW. Construction of the power plant was started in 1967 with the first unit commissioned in 1973, followed by units two and three in 1974.

Located on Lake Keowee in Seneca, South Carolina, the plant is owned and operated by Duke Energy. It became the second nuclear power plant in the US to get its licence renewed for another 20 years. The plant supplies electricity to approximately 1.9 million homes.

The reactor vessels of the power plant weigh 660t each and have 8in-thick steel walls. The containment building of the plant is made of 3.9ft-thick concrete with a 7/8in-thick steel liner.

4. South Texas Project Electric Generating Station – 2.7GW

top ten nuclear power plants
South Texas Project Electric Generating Station is installed with two PWR units.

The South Texas Project Electric Generating Station is a 2.7GW nuclear power plant operated by STP Nuclear Operating Company, which is jointly owned by Austin Energy (16%), CPS Energy (40%), and NRG Energy (44%).

Located near Bay City, Texas, US, the plant site covers an area of 12,220 acres along the Colorado River. It is installed with two PWR units, which commenced operations in August 1988 and June 1989.

The plant utilises cooling water from a 7,000-acre off-channel reservoir, which draws water from the Colorado River. It supplies electricity to two million homes and displaces approximately 16 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide a year.

3. Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station – 2.77GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station is installed with two units licensed to be operated until 2033 and 2034. Image courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station is located on the west bank of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. It comprises two units equipped with boiling water reactors having a combined capacity of 2.77GW. Both the units commenced operations in 1974 and are licensed for operations until 2033 and 2034.

The power plant is jointly owned by Exelon Generation, and New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and operated by the former. It supplies electricity to 2.7 million homes and offsets 19Mt of carbon emissions a year.

An $87m upgrade project was recently completed at the plant to enhance the safety and reliability of the plant. Several types of equipment, including turbines, steam dryers, generators, and transformers were either replaced or upgraded as part of the project. Exelon is seeking a licence renewal for the plant, which will enable it to operate until 2054.

2. Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant – 3.4GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant located in Athens, Alabama, is the second biggest nuclear power plant in the US. Image courtesy of Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant is equipped with three units equipped with boiling water reactors having a total capacity of 3.4GW. It is built on an 840-acre site in Athens, Alabama, and is operated by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The first unit of the plant was commissioned in 1973 while the second and third units were respectively commissioned in 1974 and 1976. The power plant produces sufficient electricity to power two million homes and accounts for 10% of TVA’s total generation capacity.

Unit three of the power plant achieved extended power uprate (EPU) in July 2018, which increased the capacity by 155MW. The EPU on units one and two is to be implemented in 2019 with an estimated investment of $475m. It will enable the three units to generate an additional 465MW of electricity.

1. Palo Verde Generating Station – 3.93GW

top ten nuclear power plants
Palo Verde Generating Station is the biggest nuclear power plant in the US with a capacity of 3.93GW.

At 3.93GW, the Palo Verde Generating Station is the biggest nuclear power plant in the US. It generates more than 32 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity a year, which is enough to supply to more than four million people of Arizona.

Located near Tonopah, Arizona, the power plant has three units equipped with pressurised water reactors. Units one and two were commissioned in 1986 while unit three was completed in 1988. The facility is the only plant in the country to use 20 billion gallons of wastewater from municipalities instead of freshwater for its cooling purposes.

The power plant is jointly owned by Arizona Power Service (APS, 29.1%), Salt River Project (SRP, 17.5%), El Paso Electric (15.8%), Southern California Edison (15.8%), Public Service Co. of New Mexico (10.2%), Southern California Public Power Authority (5.9%), and Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power (5.7%). APS operates the plant on behalf of the owners.