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U.S. Northeastern Nuclear Output Tumbles as 2 Plants Shut

U.S. Northeastern nuclear-power generation dropped to the lowest level in nearly six months after Constellation Energy Group Inc. and PPL Corp. shut two reactors in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Nationwide generation slid 2.3 percent to 79,783 megawatts, or 78 percent of capacity, a third consecutive decline, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 0.9 percent less than a year ago with 20 of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

Constellation’s 862-megawatt Calvert Cliffs 2 reactor, about 38 miles (61 kilometers) south of Annapolis, Maryland, automatically shut yesterday after operating at full power. Kory Raftery, a plant spokesman, did not immediately respond to an e-mail today seeking comment.

Susquehanna 1, a 1,149-megawatt reactor operated by PPL, also halted after operating at 100 percent of capacity yesterday. The unit, 50 miles northwest of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was idled for turbine modifications, according to a company statement.

Unit 2 closed earlier for refueling. Both reactors are expected back online at the start of summer, the company said.

The new shutdowns sent regional nuclear output lower by 9.7 percent to 18,011 megawatts, the least since Nov. 15, according to commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Production in the Midwest and West were unchanged while Southeast generation increased by 33 megawatts.

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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