Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Texas Comptroller Energy Tour: Nuclear Overview

Nuclear Snapshot | Print Snapshot (PDF)


Texas has long been a leader in the energy industry; its abundance of fossil fuels and renewable sources generate electricity for the state and make substantial contributions to the Texas economy. Texas’ energy use is tied to its large population, hot climate and extensive industrial sector, and the state depends on reliable and affordable energy. One important source of energy for the state is nuclear power.


Nuclear fission is the process behind all operating nuclear power plants today. While nuclear fusion is being studied with the hopes of creating fusion reactors in coming decades, it is not yet a feasible option. The market-viable process, fission, is a reaction that breaks down a nucleus into two smaller nuclei, transitioning energy into both nuclear and thermal forms.1 Uranium became the standard fuel for this process because uranium nuclei can be more easily broken down than those of many other elements, and it can be mined in many places globally.2

In terms of known uranium deposits, about 1 percent are in the United States. Australia has 28 percent, followed by Kazakhstan (13 percent), Canada (10 percent), Russia (8 percent), Namibia (8 percent) and several others.3 As of 2022, Kazakhstan accounts for the most mining production, followed by Canada, Namibia and Australia.4 Additionally, the U.S. is the 12th largest producer of mined uranium product.5

U.S.-based uranium mining experienced a steep decline in 2019 to the point of near-shutdown. All but one mine was shuttered or pivoted to other products due to several factors; most notably, plummeting prices in the years following the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan.6 However, there are indications that mining will ramp up again as Energy Fuels, Inc., Uranium Energy Corporation and other companies research reopening and adding new mining sites.7

According to the International Energy Association, 10 percent of the world’s electricity is produced by 440 nuclear power plants.8 In the U.S., there are 54 power plants that contribute roughly 20 percent of electricity generation. Nuclear is the third most-used energy source behind natural gas and coal.9

Nuclear Energy Production in Texas

In 2022, nuclear energy made up 10 percent of Texas’ total energy generation and is the fourth most-used energy source behind gas, wind and coal.10 The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) lists two Texas nuclear power plants in its U.S. Energy Atlas (September 2022). Each plant has two reactors. Combined, these plants have an installed capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1
Texas Nuclear Power Plants, 2022

Power Plant Operator County MWe Licensed MWt
Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Reactor 1 Luminant Generation Somervell 1,218 3,612
Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Reactor 2 Luminant Generation Somervell 1,207 3,612
South Texas Project, Reactor 1 STP Nuclear Operating Company Matagorda 1,250.6 3,853
South Texas Project, Reactor 2 STP Nuclear Operating Company Matagorda 1,250.6 3,853

Sources: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; NuclearNewswire

Notes: MWe is the potential electricity generation of which the reactor is capable in megawatts. MWt refers to thermal (heat) output in megawatts.

Luminant Generation operates the Comanche Peak complex and is owned by Vistra Corporation based in Irving. Vistra is a public company that owns several energy production facilities across the U.S., including the world’s largest energy storage system in Moss Landing, California.11 Vistra will soon own three other nuclear power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, having announced in March 2023 a deal to acquire Energy Harbor, a power producer and retail energy supplier based in Ohio.12

The Comanche Peak complex employs more than 600 workers, plus several hundred contractors and technicians. It is a significant source of economic activity for Somervell County and is its largest taxpayer.13

The South Texas Project Electric Generation Station (STPEGS) is operated by the STP Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC), which is owned by three entities: NRG Energy (44 percent), city of San Antonio (CPS Energy, 40 percent) and city of Austin (Austin Energy, 16 percent).14 According to the American Nuclear Society, the STPNOC has about 1,200 employees.15

In 2022, there were 1,694 Texas jobs in the nuclear electric power generation industry, with average wages of $175,140. The industry contributed an estimated $1.4 billion in gross domestic product to the Texas economy, according to Chmura, a labor and economic market research and software firm.16 When considering nuclear energy jobs outside of the utilities sector, such as those in manufacturing, construction or professional services, the number of jobs jumps to more than 3,000.17

A new Texas plant in Seadrift is under development by Dow, a multinational company headquartered in Michigan, and X-Energy Reactor Company, LLC.18 The plant will be located on a manufacturing complex owned by Dow’s Union Carbide Corporation that provides key products to several industries.19 The proposed reactor is a small modular reactor (SMR) – one of the first operational SMRs in the U.S. for electricity production beyond academic and research uses.

Nuclear generation in Texas has been steady throughout the past decade, with peak generation occurring in 2016. In 2021, more than 40 million megawatt hours (MWh) of nuclear energy were generated, keeping with trends over the past few years (Exhibit 2) 20.

Exhibit 2
Annual Texas Nuclear Generation (MWh in millions)

Annual Texas Nuclear Generation (MWh in millions)
Year Generation (MWh)
2012 38.44
2013 38.31
2014 39.29
2015 39.35
2016 42.08
2017 38.58
2018 41.19
2019 41.30
2020 41.44
2021 40.21

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Uranium Mining in Texas

According to the Uranium Producers of America, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming have the most suitable uranium deposits for extraction.21 Each site has its own particular mineral mix. In Texas, most surveyed deposits are situated within the coastal plain and are sandstone-hosted. This accounts for 8 percent of known U.S. uranium.22

There are two broad types of uranium mining: open pit and in situ. In situ mining is the process of pushing fluid into the ground to dissolve minerals. Once the fluid is pumped back to the surface, a nearby or on-site facility processes the solution and extracts the uranium into a concentrated, transportable form.23 The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulates this process. According to TCEQ, it can be cleaner than pit mining as it does not disturb the surface of the land and, when done properly, there are protections in place to prevent harmful radiation leakage into the surrounding environment.24

From the 1960s to the 1990s, open pit mining was the norm, but in recent years, in situ has become more prevalent and currently is the only method licensed in Texas.25

Open pit mining and exploration drilling are regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). Regarding uranium exploration without mining, the RRC currently has 10 issued permits for drilling (Exhibit 3). These are for exploration only and are not for mining purposes.

Exhibit 3
Texas Uranium Exploration Permits

Permit No. Permittee County
121P URI, Inc. Kleberg
122P URI, Inc. Duval
124Q South Texas Mining Venture Duval
125P EFR Alta Mesa, LLC Brooks and Jim Hogg
142K Uranium Energy Corp. Goliad
150J Uranium Energy Corp. Bee
156A URI, Inc. Live Oak
157A URI, Inc. Live Oak
158A URI, Inc. Live Oak
159 URI, Inc. Bee and Live Oak

Source: Railroad Commission of Texas26

In situ uranium mining is slowly restarting in Texas after a long period of near dormancy that began in 1999. While there are plans for more sites, the permitting and construction processes of mining facilities can be lengthy. Moreover, there are different permitting requirements for the mine itself and the processing facility. TCEQ has seven active licenses for sites in Texas (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4
In Situ Uranium Mining Operations in Texas

Mine License Owner Stage
Burke Hollow Project (Bee County) R06066 Uranium Energy Corp. Fully permitted; Not yet operational
Goliad Project (Goliad County) R06064 Uranium Energy Corp. Fully permitted; Not yet operational
Hobson Processing Facility (Karnes County) R03626 South Texas Mining Venture LLP (Uranium Energy Corp.) Fully permitted; Not yet operational
La Palangana In Situ Recovery Project (Duval County) R06062 South Texas Mining Venture LLP (Uranium Energy Corp.) Fully permitted; Not yet operational
Alta Mesa Project (Brooks County) R05360 enCore Alta Mesa LLC (enCore Energy Corp.) Temporarily suspended (to resume in 2024)
Rosita (Duval County); Vasquez (Duval County); Kingsville Dome (Kleberg County) Projects R03653 URI, Inc. (enCore Energy Corp.) Temporarily suspended (to resume in late 2023)
Panna Maria Uranium Operations Project (Karnes County) R06063 Rio Grande Resources Corporation To be transferred to the Department of Energy for legacy management in 2024

Sources: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Mining Data Online, NS Energy Business, the Newswire27

The enCore Energy Corporation is building out a hub of uranium production in South Texas with two projects:

  • The Rosita Project, which will house a mine and a processing facility.
  • The Alta Mesa Project, which will consist of Mesteña Grande and a central processing facility.28

The company also has recently acquired other sites for development, including Butler Ranch in Karnes County and previous drilling sites in Bee and Live Oak counties.29 In addition, the Kingsville Dome Processing Facility, while no longer running, acts as a buffer if needed for overflow of pumped uranium-rich solution.30

Uranium Energy Corporation is following a similar process with a central processing facility in Hobson and satellite mining sites at Burke Hollow and Palangana. The company has additional sites at Goliad and Salvo. (Goliad has experienced more recent measuring of uranium ore, but Salvo has had limited development.)31

The Panna Maria project site, currently owned by Rio Grande Resources Corporation, was a uranium recovery and processing station until it shut down in 1993. TCEQ and Rio Grande Resources Corporation are currently working to transfer the site to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) legacy management program.32 When the process is complete, DOE will fully manage the Panna Maria project site.

Current Issues

Nuclear energy is a major player in the current fuel mix of the Texas grid. However, several issues have limited its potential, especially during the past 20 years. Uranium mining, while never a prominent industry in Texas, nearly died out for a decade and is only now re-emerging, and nuclear energy production has remained steady but has had limited growth. These are some of the additional hurdles nuclear energy generation faces in Texas:

  • Water scarcity is an ongoing problem. Nuclear power plants require large quantities for cooling. Depending on site conditions, the average nuclear power plant consumes 270-670 gallons of water per MWh.33 Without water, plants cannot function.34 In a state that faces frequent droughts, the nuclear industry must tap a variety of water sources including groundwater and desalinated water.35
  • After the 2011 disaster in Japan, there was a sharp decline in public support for nuclear power, resulting in a drop in prices and loss of profit for both nuclear power and uranium mining. The market dropped enough that companies suspended mining operations. Only recently has a uranium bull market re-emerged.36
  • There are environmental concerns surrounding mining. Pollution from abandoned pit mines spreads via wind and groundwater into communities. In Karnes County in South Texas, abandoned uranium mines have caused uranium contamination in nearby water sources.37
  • While the U.S. is relatively mineral rich, it still imports the vast majority of the uranium used in power plants. In 2021, only 5 percent of purchased uranium came from U.S. sources whereas; 35 percent came from Kazakhstan; 15 percent came from Canada; 14 percent came from Australia; 14 percent came from Russia; 7 percent came from Namibia; and 10 percent came from five other countries.38


The future is strong for nuclear energy in Texas, especially with a third nuclear power complex coming online in Seadrift in the next few years. Furthermore, there is increasing attention on mining in the coastal plain, with extraction expected to begin again later this year. Growing local industry will help safeguard energy production from foreign interests and increase economic activity in the state.

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  2. National Geographic, ”Nuclear Energy,” (Last visited Aug, 15, 2023.)
  3. World Nuclear Association, “World Uranium Mining Production,” (Last visited Aug. 21, 2023.)
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  14. CPS Energy, “Environmentally friendly and dependable power from STP,” (Last visited Aug. 21, 2023.); World Nuclear News, “NRG exits nuclear with sale of South Texas Project stake,” (June 2023) (Last visited Aug. 21, 2023.)
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  16. Chmura JobsEQ
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  20. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “EIA-923 Power Plant Operations Report, Net Generation by State by Type of Producers by Energy Source, 1990-2021,” (Last visited Aug. 21, 2023.)
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