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U.S. Nuclear Output Slides as Exelon Shuts Midwest Plants

U.S. nuclear-power production slumped to the lowest level in more than five months after Exelon Corp. shut two reactors in the Midwest.

Nationwide generation slid 2.2 percent to 72,591 megawatts, or 71 percent of capacity, the least since Nov. 2, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 4.4 percent less than a year ago with 26 of 104 reactors shut.

Exelon’s LaSalle plant, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, shut units 1 and 2, both of which operated at 100 percent of capacity yesterday. The plant experienced automatic shutdowns after a lightning strike caused a loss of offsite power, according to a commission report.

The closings drove Midwestern nuclear production down to 14,350 megawatts, the first drop in 10 days. Generation climbed 420 megawatts in the West to 14,042 as Great Plains Energy Inc. boosted its Wolf Creek 1 reactor to 82 percent of capacity from 46 percent yesterday. The unit, about 55 miles south of Topeka, Kanasas, is returning from refueling.

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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