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U.S. Western Nuclear Output Climbs to Highest in 3 Months

Nuclear-power production in the U.S. West climbed to the highest level in three months as Great Plains Energy Inc. increased power at the 1,166-megawatt Wolf Creek reactor in Kansas.

U.S. generation gained 2.3 percent to 82,420 megawatts, or 81 percent of capacity, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the sixth consecutive advance, the longest string since Dec. 7. Output was 3.1 percent more than a year ago with 19 of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

Great Plains’ Wolf Creek 1, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Topeka, Kansas, was operating at 97 percent of capacity today, up from 20 percent yesterday. The unit slowed early this week for repairs associated with cooling water in a stator, according to Cassie Bailey, a spokeswoman at the plant.

The increase sent Western nuclear output to 18,532 megawatts, 7.5 percent higher than yesterday and the most since Feb. 3, commission data compiled by Bloomberg show. A gain at Entergy Corp.’s 1,250-megawatt Waterford 3 reactor in Louisiana, to 50 percent from 18 percent, also contributed.

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.

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