The Energy Information Administration reports that in March and April 2017, monthly electricity generation from utility-scale renewable generators exceeded output from nuclear generators for the first time in over three decades. According to the EIA, the last time renewable output surpassed nuclear generation was in July 1984. The EIA attributes this outcome to a perfect storm of factors, including record generation from wind and solar, increased output from hydro (EIA treats all hydro generation as renewable for purposes of this report), and reduced nuclear plant availability due to maintenance and refueling, which typically tends to be scheduled during the spring and fall months. EIA also notes that although renewable generation has been steadily increasing, net generation from nuclear has remained reasonably flat since the late 1990s, and more and more nuclear units have retired in recent years.
The trend is unlikely to be a lasting one, however. The EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook released June 6, 2017, projects nuclear output once again outpacing renewable generation in summer 2017.