U.S. Nuclear Output Rises Off 10-Year Low on Salem Boost

U.S. nuclear-power output rose from its lowest level in more than 10 years as Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. boosted the Salem 1 reactor in New Jersey, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

Power generation nationwide increased 994 megawatts, or 1.4 percent, from yesterday to 71,277 megawatts, or 70 percent of capacity, according to an NRC report today and data compiled by Bloomberg. Twenty-nine of the nation’s 104 reactors were offline.

Public Service raised output from the 1,174-megawatt Salem 1 unit to 75 percent of capacity from 8 percent yesterday. The reactor was shut April 21 when water intake filters became clogged. Another unit at the site, 1,130-megawatt Salem 2, is closed.

The plant is about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Wilmington, Delaware.

Energy Future Holdings Corp. raised output from the 1,150-megawatt Comanche Peak 2 to 91 percent of capacity from 77 percent yesterday. The 1,200-megawatt Comanche Peak Unit 1 is producing at full power. The plant is 66 miles southwest of Dallas.

The nation’s nuclear output fell to 70,283 megawatts yesterday, its lowest level since Oct. 22, 2000, after storms tore across the South, killing hundreds and knocking out all three reactors at the Browns Ferry plant in Alabama.

Browns Ferry has a combined capacity of 3,284 megawatts, enough to power 2.6 million average U.S. homes, according to U.S. Energy Department statistics. The plant is about 84 miles north of Birmingham.

Some reactors close for maintenance and refueling during the spring and fall in the U.S., when demand for heating and cooling is lower. The outages can increase consumption of natural gas and coal to generate electricity.

The average U.S. reactor refueling outage lasted 41 days in 2009, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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