U.S. Nuclear Output Rises as Wolf Creek Reactor Starts in Kansas

U.S. nuclear output rose 0.4 percentage points as the Wolf Creek reactor in Kansas started and American Electric Power Co. boosted a reactor on Lake Michigan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported.

Production from U.S. plants increased by 393 megawatts from yesterday to 97,010 megawatts, or 96 percent of capacity, according to the report today from the NRC and data compiled by Bloomberg. Two of 104 plants were offline.

The 1,166-megawatt Wolf Creek reactor near Burlington, Kansas, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Topeka, started after workers repaired an emergency diesel generator. The unit is operating at 6 percent of capacity. The repairs were expected to take longer than a week when the unit shut Dec. 6.

Westar Energy Inc., based in Topeka, and Great Plains Energy Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, each has a 47 percent stake in Wolf Creek Nuclear. Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. holds the remaining 6 percent.

American Electric increased output at its 1,060-megawatt D.C. Cook 2 reactor in Michigan to 90 percent of capacity from 64 percent yesterday. The plant is near Bridgman, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Cook 1, another unit at the site, is operating at full power.

NextEra Energy Inc. boosted its 640-megawatt Duane Arnold reactor in Iowa to 20 percent of capacity from 8 percent yesterday. The unit, 8 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, started Dec. 3 following a refueling and maintenance outage that began Oct. 25.

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 two shut reactors, Crystal River in Florida and the San Onofre Unit 3 in California, are expected to finish maintenance work in the first quarter of next year.

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