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U.S. Nuclear Output at 6-Week High on Exelon Plant Boosts

May 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. nuclear-power production climbed to the highest level in six weeks after Exelon Corp. increased power at three reactors in the Midwest.

Nationwide generation advanced 2.8 percent to 80,528 megawatts, or 79 percent of capacity, the most since March 17, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 2.1 percent higher than a year ago with 19 of 104 reactors offline.

Exelon’s 1,136-megawatt Byron 2 reactor reached 60 percent of capacity today, compared with 10 percent yesterday. The unit, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) west of Chicago, is progressing to full power after completing scheduled refueling, according to Paul Dempsey, a plant-based spokesman.

The company also boosted its LaSalle 1 and 2 reactors, 70 miles southwest of Chicago. The 1,118-megawatt LaSalle 1 returned to full power from 70 percent yesterday, while the 1,120-megawatt LaSalle 2 rose to 70 percent from 28 percent.

Crews shut LaSalle 2 on April 25 when a valve leak caused elevated water levels in a condenser pit, according to Megan Borchers, a company spokeswoman based in Marseilles, Illinois.

The three reactor gains sent nuclear output higher by 9 percent to 16,650 megawatts in the Midwest, the most since April 7. Generation in the West advanced 4.7 percent to 17,234 megawatts, a fourth consecutive gain.

Western Reactors

Pinnacle West Capital Corp.’s 1,335-megawatt Palo Verde 1 returned to full power after running at 68 percent yesterday. The reactor 45 miles west of Phoenix had been shut for refueling and maintenance.

Great Plains Energy Inc.’s Wolf Creek 1, 55 miles south of Topeka, Kansas, increased to 20 percent of capacity from 9 percent yesterday. The company reduced power at the 1,166-megawatt unit to conduct repairs associated with cooling water in a stator, said Cassie Bailey, a spokeswoman at the plant.

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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