Three Reactors Lift U.S. Nuclear Generation to 12-Week High

U.S. nuclear-power generation climbed to a 12-week high as an Illinois unit started after refueling and reactors in Alabama and South Carolina increased output.

U.S. generation gained 1.3 percent to 90,143 megawatts, or 88 percent of capacity, the most since Sept. 14, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Production, which has risen for 11 straight days, was 5.5 percent lower than a year earlier with 11 of the 104 U.S. reactors offline.

Generation at Dresden 3, the 867-megawatt Exelon Corp. unit 48 miles southwest of Chicago, increased to 66 percent of capacity from 20 percent. The reactor was removed from service on Nov. 12 to replace one-third of its fuel, the company said.

Scana Corp. started the 966-megawatt Summer reactor in South Carolina, shut on Oct. 13 for refueling. Two reactor vessel head penetrations also had to be repaired because they didn’t meet requirements, according to an Oct. 24 NRC report.

Summer, 26 miles (42 kilometers) northwest of Columbia, was operating at 2 percent of capacity early today.

TVA Output

The Tennessee Valley Authority boosted output at the 1,065-megawatt Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama to 89 percent. Production was cut to 23 percent two days earlier to replace a regulator fuse box, Mike Bradley, a spokesman for the agency, said in a telephone interview.

“We expect to be up at full power this afternoon, probably by 5 p.m. Central,” he said. The plant is about 84 miles north of Birmingham.

Increased production from Summer and Browns Ferry boosted output in the Southeast by 786 megawatts to 26,568 megawatts, or 84 percent of capacity, the most since Sept. 15, NRC data show. Output is down 9.8 percent from a year earlier.

Midwest generation increased by 388 megawatts with Dresden 3 to 18,792, or 88 percent of capacity, the highest level since Oct. 24 though 2.3 percent lower than a year ago.

Northeast was little changed after rising yesterday to 24,892 megawatts, the most since Dec. 9, 2011. The region is operating 35 megawatts shy of full capacity and 0.2 percent higher than a year ago. Western U.S. nuclear generation was also little changed at 19,897 megawatts, or 83 percent of capacity, trailing the year-ago level by 9 percent.

Reactor maintenance shutdowns, usually undertaken in the U.S. spring or fall when energy use is lowest, may increase consumption of natural gas and coal to generate electricity. The average refueling down time was 43 days in 2011, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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