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Midwest Reactor Ramp Boosts U.S. Nuclear Power to 16-Week High

Nuclear-power generation rose to the highest level in 16 weeks as a Minnesota reactor was restarted and every U.S. region boosted output.

Generation nationwide advanced by 1.1 percent to 93,254 megawatts, or 91 percent of capacity, the most since Sept. 9, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 4.2 percent less than a year earlier and at the lowest level for this time of the year since 2008. Seven of 104 nuclear reactors were offline.

Xcel Energy Inc. started the 551-megawatt Prairie Island 1 reactor in Minnesota after it was shut Oct. 23 for scheduled refueling and maintenance. The unit, located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Minneapolis, was operating at 7 percent.

Production at Fermi 2 in Michigan, the DTE Energy Co. plant that can produce 1,122 megawatts of electricity, rose to 53 percent of capacity from 7 percent yesterday. The reactor, 25 miles south of Detroit, was restarted two days ago after being taken offline on Nov. 8.

Entergy Corp. boosted output for the 1,297-megawatt Grand Gulf 1 reactor in Mississippi to 31 percent of capacity from 18 percent yesterday. The unit, about 25 miles southwest of Vicksburg, is ramping up after automatically shutting down on Dec. 29 because of a turbine trip, according to an event notification on the commission’s website.

Watts Bar

The Tennessee Valley Authority boosted generation at the 1,123-megawatt Watts Bar 1 reactor, about 55 miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, to full power from 97 percent yesterday. The unit had been cut to 20 percent two days ago to perform maintenance on feed-water valve in the non-nuclear portion of the plant, according to the company.

Nuclear-power generation rose by the most in the Midwest, which gained 2.8 percent to 20,338 megawatts, or 95 percent of capacity, the highest level since Oct. 14, NRC data show.

The Northeast increased 0.6 percent to 24,899 megawatts, or 100 percent of capacity, while production in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast states advanced 0.5 percent to 28,891, or 91 percent of capacity. Western U.S. generation increased 0.9 percent to 19,126 megawatts, or 80 percent of capacity.

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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