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U.S. Nuclear Output Hits 2-Month High on Iowa Startup

U.S. nuclear output rose to its highest level in more than two months as NextEra Energy Inc. started its Duane Arnold reactor in Iowa and Dominion Resources Inc. boosted a unit in Virginia, today’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission report showed.

Production from U.S. plants increased by 775 megawatts to 95,066 megawatts, or 94 percent of capacity, the most since Sept. 27, according to the report from the NRC and data compiled by Bloomberg. Three of 104 plants were offline.

NextEra switched on its 640-megawatt Duane Arnold reactor after shutting it for refueling on Oct. 25. The unit, located 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest of Cedar Rapids, is operating at 4 percent of capacity.

Dominion boosted its 799-megawatt Surry 1 reactor to half power from 5 percent of capacity yesterday. The plant is located about 17 miles northwest of Newport News.

Surry 2, another reactor at the site, is operating at 98 percent of capacity.

The Tennessee Valley Authority increased output at its 1,065-megawatt Browns Ferry 1 reactor in Alabama to 90 percent of capacity from 42 percent yesterday. The unit started Nov. 23 after shutting for refueling on Oct. 25. Two other units at the plant, located 32 miles west of Huntsville, are at full power.

Oyster Creek

Exelon Corp. slowed its 619-megawatt Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey to 25 percent of capacity from 35 percent yesterday to work on one of two new main transformers installed in the past month.

“During plant startup we observed abnormal indications in one of the plant’s new transformers,” Mike Massaro, site vice president, said in an e-mailed press release. He did not say how long the work would last.

The reactor, located 45 miles north of Atlantic City, started on Dec. 1 after shutting for refueling and maintenance on Nov. 1. Besides the $33 million transformer replacement project, Exelon spent $13.3 million to move pipes containing radioactive tritium above ground or into monitored vaults, and about $4 million on other work.

Some reactors close for maintenance and refueling during the spring and fall, when demand for heating and cooling is lower. The outages can increase use of natural gas and coal to generate electricity in place of nuclear power.

The average U.S. reactor refueling outage lasted 41 days in 2009, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The three shut reactors are Crystal River in Florida, the D.C. Cook Unit 2 in Michigan and the San Onofre 3 in California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colin McClelland in Toronto at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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