Number of reactor outages on the decline

Only 11 of the nation’s 100 commercial nuclear reactor units were offline May 21, according to data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), although a few listed their generation percentage at less than 5 percent.

There were 20 units listed with zero generation as recently as a month ago. Spring and fall are the traditional times for refueling outages and, in some cases, purely maintenance outages. Companies are now working to conclude most outages in order to have the units available for the summer air conditioning season.

So expect fewer reactors to be on the sidelines not long after the Memorial Day holiday.

One of the most recent outages occurred Sunday, May 18, when the Xcel Energy Prairie Island 2 nuclear unit in Minnesota was taken offline to remove an obstruction in drain piping from a pump.

The work is expected to be completed in a few days. The situation poses no danger to the public or plant workers, the company said.

·      FirstEnergy Beaver Valley began its refueling outage April 18. After beginning startup and hitting 18 percent on May 20, it was back at zero on May 21

·      Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) Salem 2 began its outage April 12 and remains out of service.

·      PPL Susquehanna 1 went into refueling on April 12; still offline.

·      Duke Energy Catawba 1 in South Carolina started a regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage May 6.

·      Duke’s Harris 1 unit in North Carolina a planned maintenance outage (no refueling involved) May 16, a spokesperson said. The unit is down for turbine-related work including replacement of hydrogen coolers and exciter coolers, a spokesperson said.

·      Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Sequoyah 2 began its refueling outage May 12.

·      SCANA V.C. Summer started in South Carolina its refueling outage April 4.

·      Exelon Braidwood 2 in Illinois began its refueling outage May 3.

·      Entergy Arkansas Nuclear 2 began coast-down to refueling April 23, went offline around April 27.

·      STP Nuclear Operating Co.’s South Texas Project 1 went down for refueling March 15.

One of the more recent returns to services include the Dominion Millstone 2 unit in Connecticut. It returned to service early May 18 after a refueling outage that started April 5.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 22 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

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