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Western Nuclear Output at Seasonal Low on Three Shutdowns

Nuclear-power production fell to a seasonal low in the U.S. West as three weekend reactor shutdowns, including that of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.’s Palo Verde 1, removed almost 15 percent of the region’s capacity.

Nationwide generation slipped 2.88 percent to 77,049 megawatts, or 76 percent of capacity, the lowest level since Nov. 19, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 3.8 percent lower than a year ago with 23 of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

The 1,335-megawatt Palo Verde 1, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Phoenix, closed March 30 for refueling and maintenance, according to Betty Dayyo, a company spokeswoman based in Phoenix. Units 2 and 3 were at 100 percent of capacity.

Nuclear-power generation in the West, the NRC’s Region 4, fell to 14,198 megawatts, the lowest level for this time of year since the commission started tracking data in 1995. Nine reactors were shut in the area. Three, with a combined capacity of 3,530 megawatts, were taken offline over the weekend.

Entergy Corp.’s 995-megawatt Arkansas Nuclear 2 reactor tripped offline after an industrial accident at the facility, the company said yesterday. The accident occurred after an old generator stator, or cylindrical shaft, was being removed from the turbine building during a planned refueling outage at Arkansas Nuclear Unit 1. One person was killed and eight were injured, according to the company.

Arkansas, Comanche

The plant is 65 miles northwest of Little Rock. Terry Young, a spokesman at Entergy’s headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail or phone call asking for more information today.

Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s 1,200-megawatt Comanche Peak 1 reactor 66 miles southwest of Dallas was taken offline after operating at 100 percent of power yesterday.

Nuclear-power generation gained in the Southeastern region of the U.S. Output grew 4.2 percent to 23,716 megawatts as Tennessee Valley Authority’s 1,065-megawatt Browns Ferry 1 reactor returned to full power after operating at 97 percent on March 30. The plant was in the process of returning from a refueling outage.

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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