Natural gas use may rise as storm closes U.S. nuclear plants

Financial Post | Business

As the U.S. Northeast begins its recovery from Hurricane Sandy and power is slowly restored, natural gas may be one market that benefits.

The much-touted cleaner-burning fuel could be a replacement for nuclear power generation, which faces the highest level of outages since spring 2011.

Massive flooding and electric grid outages from the storm caused three U.S. nuclear reactors totaling 2,800 megawatts (MWs) to shut.

Those reactors and others that had already been offline could face longer inspections to check equipment following the storm. The United States last year initiated closer scrutiny of U.S. nuclear plants and their safety features following the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent flooding in Japan that caused a nuclear plant meltdown there.

That lost nuclear power would likely be replaced incrementally with gas-fired electricity, boosting demand for the fuel.

“If you reduce that demand, you could see a significant reliance on gas, especially in the east…

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