U.S. Nuclear Output Led Higher by Biggest Gain in West

U.S. nuclear-power generation rose for a third day, led by the biggest gain since November in the West, as Entergy Corp. boosted output at the 1,297-megawatt Grand Gulf 1 reactor in Mississippi.

Production nationwide advanced 1.1 percent to 94,308 megawatts, or 93 percent of capacity, the highest level since Sept. 9, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 2.2 percent less than a year ago with six of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

Entergy’s Grand Gulf 1 plant operated at 91 percent of capacity early today, 778 megawatts higher than yesterday. The unit is returning to service after shutting Dec. 29 because a turbine tripped offline, according to an event notification on the commission’s website. The cause of the trip is still under investigation, the report showed.

An e-mail to Mike Bowling, a company spokesman based in Jackson, wasn’t immediately returned today. Grand Gulf 1 is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Vicksburg.

Output in the NRC’s Western region, which spans from Washington state to Louisiana and also includes Grand Gulf 1, gained 4.1 percent to 19,904 megawatts, the biggest increase since Nov. 28.

Fermi 2

DTE Energy Co.’s Fermi 2 reactor led nuclear generation higher in the Midwest, known as the NRC’s Region 3. The area, covering from Minnesota to Ohio, increased output by 1 percent to 20,540 megawatts, the highest level since Sept. 8, according to commission data compiled by Bloomberg.

The 1,122-megawatt Fermi 2 unit operated at 68 percent of capacity today in Michigan, compared with 53 percent yesterday. Crews manually shut the unit in early November when water cooling systems for generators contained higher-than-normal amount of hydrogen gas, said Guy Cerullo, a company spokesman.

The plant will will remain at 68 percent until one of the plant’s two reactor feed pumps, which was damaged over the summer, can be replaced, Cerullo, who is based in Newport, Michigan, said in an e-mail. “That work will be done at a later date, but I can’t give you the exact timing on that work.”

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 43 days in 2011, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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