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Nuclear Output Falls to December Low on Two Shut Reactors

U.S. nuclear-power generation declined to the lowest level in two months as Exelon Corp. and Southern Co. shut reactors.

Nationwide production dropped 2.7 percent to 89,651 megawatts, or 88 percent of capacity, the least since Dec. 16, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 2.2 percent lower than a year ago, with 11 of 104 reactors offline.

Exelon’s La Salle 2, a 1,120-megawatt unit, halted early today after operating at 85 percent power yesterday. The plant, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) southeast of Ottawa, Illinois, was closed for refueling, Krista Lopykinski, a company spokeswoman in Warrenville, Illinois, said by telephone.

Southern’s 876-megawatt Hatch 1 reactor, 20 miles south of Vidalia, Georgia, was shut yesterday after “a suspected condenser tube leak,” a commission filing showed. The unit had been at full capacity.

Browns Ferry 3, a 1,115-megawatt reactor operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, was at 40 percent of capacity early today, down from full power. The three-unit plant is about 32 miles west of Huntsville, Alabama.

Output in the the NRC’s Southeast region, which includes Hatch and Browns Ferry, fell by the most since Oct. 27. In the Northeast, Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim 1 remained closed early today. The plant, 38 miles southeast of Boston, was shut after losing outside power during a blizzard that began Feb. 8, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Reactor maintenance shutdowns, usually undertaken in the U.S. spring or fall when energy use is at its lowest, may increase consumption of natural gas and coal to generate electricity. The average refueling down time was 46 days in 2012, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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