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U.S. Nuclear Output Extends Gain as Duke Lifts McGuire 1

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. nuclear-power generation climbed for a fifth day, the longest string of gains since Feb. 1, as Duke Energy Corp. raised output at the 1,100-megawatt McGuire 1 reactor in North Carolina.

Nationwide production advanced 0.8 percent to 78,083 megawatts, or 77 percent of capacity, the highest level since April 13, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 1.7 percent higher than a year earlier with 22 of 104 plants offline.

McGuire 1, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Charlotte, increased to 78 percent of capacity from 50 percent yesterday. The unit is returning to service after shutting March 17 for refueling and maintenance, according to the commission.

The gain led Southeastern nuclear production higher by 1.2 percent to 26,182 megawatts, the most since April 6. Generation in the Midwest climbed 1.5 percent to 15,019 megawatts on a reactor boost by Exelon Corp.

Exelon’s 1,120-megawatt LaSalle 2, about 70 miles southwest of Chicago, operated at 20 percent of capacity. The unit automatically shut April 17 when the plant lost power because of a lightning strike, according to a commission report.

The 1,118-megawatt LaSalle 1 was also shut, and the company is working to bring it online, said Krista Lopykinski, a company spokeswoman based in Chicago.

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 46 days in 2012, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harvey in New York at charvey32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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