U.S. Nuclear Output Soars to 4-Month High on NextEra Gain

U.S. nuclear-power generation climbed to the highest level in almost four months as NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE) boosted power to the St. Lucie 2 reactor and Southern Co. (SO) increased production at the Hatch 2 plant.

Nationwide output swelled 0.9 percent to 88,691 megawatts, or 87 percent of capacity, the most since Feb. 11, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Generation was 3.3 percent higher than a year ago with 13 of 104 reactors shut.

The St. Lucie 2 reactor led U.S. production higher as it increased power to 86 percent from 9 percent of capacity yesterday. The 1,002-megawatt unit, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Palm Beach, Florida, is returning to full power after completing work on a non-nuclear side of the plant, said Doug Andrews, a company spokesman in Jensen Beach.

The 883-megawatt Hatch 2, about 74 miles west of Savannah, Georgia, returned to full power after operating yesterday at 75 percent. The unit reduced power June 4 to complete testing.

Reactor maintenance shutdowns, usually undertaken in the U.S. spring or fall when energy use is lowest, may increase consumption of natural gas and coal to generate electricity. The average refueling down time was 46 days in 2012, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harvey in New York at charvey32@bloomberg.net

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

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