Berwick, Pa., June 7, 2011 — A thorough inspection of the Unit 1 main turbine at the PPL Susquehanna nuclear power plant in northeastern Pennsylvania has revealed blade damage similar to that discovered during a recent routine inspection of the plant’s Unit 2 main turbine.
The main turbine for each unit at the Susquehanna nuclear power plant consists of a high-pressure turbine and three low-pressure turbines. Cracks were discovered on the blades during inspections of the low-pressure turbines.
Both reactors are in a safe, stable shutdown mode, and there was no potential danger to the public. The turbines are located in a separate building from the reactors.
Operators shut down the Unit 2 reactor in April for a scheduled biennial refueling and maintenance outage.
After discovering cracks on the Unit 2 turbine blades, PPL Susquehanna announced on May 5 that the Unit 2 outage would be extended by about four to six weeks from its original planned return time in mid-May. Rausch said that schedule has not changed.
PPL Susquehanna also announced at that time that it would inspect the Unit 1 turbine blades in response to the issues with the Unit 2 turbine. Unit 1 was shut down on May 16 to start that inspection. Because the scope of turbine blade cracks on Unit 1 is similar to those found on Unit 2, the Unit 1 outage duration also is expected to be about four to six weeks.
PPL EnergyPlus, the energy marketing and trading affiliate of PPL Corp., has procured replacement power to meet its commitments while the turbine work is completed at the Susquehanna plant.
PPL Corp. has re-evaluated the financial impact of turbine blade replacements based on the additional work required on the Unit 1 turbine. PPL’s original estimate of the after-tax financial impact of the outages was $20 million to $30 million. The revised estimate of the after-tax financial impact, including energy-sales margins and repair costs for both units, is $50 million to $60 million.
PPL Corp. is maintaining its 2011 forecast of earnings from ongoing operations of $2.50 to $2.75 per share, based on its strong performance in the first quarter and its most current financial forecast for the year.
The two units at the Susquehanna plant generate electricity by boiling water to create steam that passes through turbines that turn a generator. Each of the turbines has hundreds of fanlike metal blades on rotating parts.
PPL Susquehanna will use diagnostic equipment that is being installed on the turbines to test for possible sources of blade vibration, which is believed to be the cause of the cracking.
The Susquehanna plant, located in Luzerne County, Pa., about seven miles north of Berwick, is jointly owned by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc., and is operated by PPL Susquehanna.