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Exelon Slows Oyster Creek to Replace New Transformer

Exelon Corp. expects its Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey to remain at reduced power for “several weeks” to replace a transformer that was installed just last month, the company said.

Exelon took the plant’s turbine offline at 5 p.m. local time yesterday and is keeping the unit in “hot standby,” meaning it’s at operating temperature and pressure, David Benson, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview today. The unit was at less than 25 percent of capacity, he said.

Workers at the 41-year-old plant, one of the nation’s oldest, installed two new transformers made by Hyundai during a $50 million monthlong refueling and maintenance outage that ended Dec. 1.

“One of the new transformers has given us some abnormal indications, so we’re pulling that one out and putting in our spare,” Benson said. “The reactor is still online, which means we can return to power pretty quick.”

After the transformers are switched and the reactor is back in operation, it will operate at reduced power through one transformer, Benson said. In a couple of weeks, the turbine will go offline again for final connections to put both transformers back in the system, he said.

Decommission Scheduled

The 619-megawatt plant, about 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Atlantic City, is to be decommissioned in 2019, a decade before its federal license expires, the company said yesterday.

Chicago-based Exelon said it reached a deal with state regulators on the closure date in exchange for not having to install expensive cooling towers that critics say are needed to stop the impact of warm water ejected from the unit into Barnegat Bay.

The transformers, 15 feet tall and nine feet wide, each weigh about 200 tons. They modify the electricity produced by the plant so it can be economically carried by power lines.

The plant produces enough electricity for 600,000 homes, or about 6 percent of the state’s needs, and employs 700 people, the company said.

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