Cheap natural gas, high construction costs and a disaster in Japan have combined to dim prospects for a resurgence in nuclear power — especially in Texas’ unregulated market where utility companies must bear all of the financial risk of building new plants.
Because new technology has unlocked natural gas in shale formations, its price has dropped and its use as a power generation fuel has grown.
The shale gas situation is making it difficult for utilities to justify the cost of a new nuclear plant. Despite the challenges, the government predicts that nuclear power will have a place in the nation’s energy mix for decades. Advocates tout its lack of greenhouse gas emissions, and market analysts note that natural gas isn’t likely to stay cheap indefinitely.