Nation's oldest nuclear power plant shuts down

Nation's oldest nuclear power plant shuts down
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The country's oldest nuclear power plan is shutting its doors.

New Jersey-based Oyster Creek Generating Station shut down on Monday, a month earlier than anticipated.

In February the plant was scheduled to shutter in October, one year ahead of schedule.

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In a Twitter statement Monday, parent company Exelon Generation highlighted the plant's 49 years of safe and clean energy production.

"The plant’s lifetime carbon-free footprint was the equivalent of removing nearly 31 million cars from the road," the account tweeted.

The nearly 50-year-old facility supported 500 direct jobs and added $80 million into the local economy, according to USA Today. At its peak, the plant produced 636 net megawatts of electricity — enough electricity to supply 600,000 homes.

When first announcing the plans to shutter the plant in February the company cited high maintenance costs at the aging facility.

"The decision will also help Exelon better manage resources as fuel and maintenance costs continue to rise amid historically low power prices," the company said in a statement at the time.

The power plant's closure is the latest in a long line of retiring nuclear and coal facilities whose costs have started to outweigh their electricity production. There are currently 60 nuclear power plants operating in the U.S.

Increasingly affordable liquid natural gas production in the U.S. has been the main competitor for both nuclear and coal plants.

As a result, nuclear production in the country is expected to continue to decline between 2017 and 2050. The Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook expects that in that time period the country's nuclear power generating capacity will drop from 99.3 gigawatts to 79.1 gigawatts.