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E.ON Begins Isar Reactor Halt as Germany Plans Safety Check

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March 16 (Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, was the first nuclear power plant operator to start the halt of a facility in the country after Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered safety checks at the country’s seven oldest reactors.

E.ON began lowering output at its 878-megawatt Isar 1 plant in the southern town of Essenbach at 12:10 p.m. local time yesterday, according to data published on the company’s website. The utility is operating the facility at 110 megawatts until the government orders it to switch the plant off, said Petra Uhlmann, a spokeswoman for E.ON’s nuclear power unit.

The nationwide safety review will run through June, Merkel told reporters in Berlin yesterday. Two of the seven plants are currently offline. The rest equals 5.2 gigawatts of the 20.7 gigawatts installed over Germany’s 17 reactors.

The seven plants are E.ON’s Isar 1 and Unterweser, RWE AG’s Biblis A and B, EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG’s Philippsburg 1 and Neckarwestheim 1 as well as Brunsbuettel, which is co-owned by E.ON and Vattenfall AB. Biblis B is offline for maintenance, while Brunsbuettel has been shut since June 2007 following a short circuit in a nearby power network.

RWE will halt Biblis A in coordination with a regulator in the state of Hesse, where the plant is located, and publish details of the stoppage on its website, said Manfred Lang, a company spokesman, today by phone. The utility can’t yet say when the plant will be taken offline, he said.

Government Orders

EnBW plans to shut down its Neckarwestheim 1 plant after an internal decision, Ulrich Schroeder, a company spokesman, said today, without specifying a timeframe. Stefan Mappus, the premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg, said the reactor will be taken off the grid permanently.

EnBW is waiting to discuss the operation of Philippsburg 1 with the government, Schroeder said, adding that the utility will halt the reactor if ordered to do so by the state.

Uhlmann, the E.ON spokeswoman, said the company is waiting for a state order to halt its Unterweser plant. Data the utility published on a website that tracks the stops and starts of its power stations showed it had reduced capacity at Isar 1 to zero.

GERMAN REACTORS TO HALT UNDER SAFETY CHECKS:

UNIT             OWNER         MW         OUT         RETURN
Isar 1           E.ON          770        March 15    Mid-June*
Unterweser       E.ON          1,345      Unknown**   Unknown**
Biblis A         RWE           1,167      Unknown**   Unknown**
Biblis B         RWE           1,227      Feb. 25     Unknown**
Brunsbuettel     Vfall/E.ON    771        July 18 ‘07 Unknown**
Neckarwestheim 1 EnBW          840        Unknown***  No Return
Philippsburg 1   EnBW          926        Unknown**   Unknown**

* Company estimate ** Determined by state/federal government *** Determined by company and or state government

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt at ncomfort1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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