Nuclear decommissioning trusts are legally required funds set aside by nuclear reactor owners to fund the eventual cleanup of radioactive materials when the reactor is closed. Recent data provided by Callan show these trusts held about $69.3 billion at the end of 2017, up from $51.6 billion in 2012 and $34.9 billion in 2008. Investor-owned utility reactors represent 85% of total decommissioning costs, but 89% of decommissioning trust fund assets.
Total contributions to NDTs in 2017 were $258 million, down 13.4% from the year before. Investor-owned NDTs were responsible for the decline, as publicly owned facilities saw a slight 3.7% bump in contributions. Investor-owned trust contributions have declined in each of the past three years.
Despite the decline in contributions, investor-owned NDTs saw an increase in funded status – calculated much like pension plan funded status, assets divided by liabilities – to 81.2% in 2017 from 72.8% in 2016.
In 2017, nuclear power generated about 20% of total U.S. electricity. Eleven reactors are currently operating in Illinois, the most of any state. Pennsylvania has nine.