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U.S. Nuclear Output Jumps as Exelon Starts New Jersey Reactor

U.S. nuclear output jumped 1.7 percent as Exelon Corp. started its Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey and NextEra Energy Inc. boosted a unit at its Turkey Point plant in Florida, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report today showed.

Production from U.S. plants rose by 1,550 megawatts to 94,477 megawatts, or 93 percent of capacity, from 92,927 megawatts yesterday, according to the report from the NRC and data compiled by Bloomberg. Production hit a two-month high of 94,919 megawatts on Nov. 28. Six of 104 plants were offline.

Exelon switched on its 619-megawatt Oyster Creek reactor, located 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, after shutting it for refueling and maintenance on Nov. 1. The unit is operating at 1 percent of capacity.

The maintenance included a $33 million project to replace two main power transformers at the plant, which is almost 41 years old and is considered the nation’s oldest.

Exelon is also spending $13.3 million to move pipes containing tritium above ground or into monitored vaults. The plant is pumping tritium-contaminated groundwater from a football field-sized plume on the site.

NextEra boosted its 693-megawatt Turkey Point 4 unit in Florida to full power from 50 percent of capacity yesterday. The reactor is located 25 miles south of Miami.

Another unit at the site, Turkey Point 3, is operating at full capacity.

Millstone 2

Dominion Resources Inc. increased output at its 884-megawatt Millstone 2 reactor in Connecticut to 76 percent of capacity from 1 percent yesterday. The unit automatically shut down on Nov. 28 when a water pump tripped offline.

Another reactor at the site, Millstone 3, is at full power. The plant is located about 3 miles southwest of New London.

Duke Energy Corp. boosted its 1,129-megawatt Catawba 1 reactor to full power from 65 percent of capacity yesterday after fixing a small steam leak near a turbine on Nov. 26.

Catawba 2, another unit at the plant located about 6 miles northwest of Rock Hill, is operating at 99 percent of capacity.

PG&E Corp. increased output at its 1,151-megawatt Diablo Canyon Unit 2 reactor in California to 55 percent of capacity from 50 percent yesterday. Another reactor, Unit 1, is operating at full power at the site, about 200 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

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.

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