Spain To Close Down Idled Santa Maria de Garona NPP

The Spanish government said Tuesday that it would close the Santa Maria de Garona power plant, which, as the country's oldest nuclear power plant, was commissioned in 1971 and has been idled since July 2013. The apparent reason for the closure is the lack of political will to return the plant to active service.

Santa Maria de Garona NPPSpain's Energy Minister Alvaro Nadal announced the closure. According to the AP, Nadal said the plant's license would not be renewed due to uncertainty over the plant's “viability.”

The country's Nuclear Security Council had cleared the plant for continued operations earlier this year It was shut down by operator Nuclenor to avoid taxes on production, including a new tax, that would have added more than $175 million in annual tax payments. As it was, the operator was fined $21.7 million for closing down the plant in December 2012 although its license was good through July 2013.

With a policy of phasing out nuclear power in Spain, no license extension was expected. However, in what was seen as a compromise, the plant was granted a four-year extension, contingent on safety upgrades, instead of the normal extension time frame of 10 years.

Spain's seven reactors generate about 20 percent of the country's electricity needs, which leveled off after the global recession in 2007-2009. That's close to the same percentage of electricity generated by nuclear power that is currently generated in the United States.

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