Nuclear Output Falls as 3 Reactors Shut in the Southeast

U.S. nuclear-power generation fell in the Southeast by the most since Dec. 16, 2011, as three reactors were shut down.

Nationwide production declined 2.1 percent to 87,756 megawatts, or 86 percent of capacity, the lowest level since Dec. 4, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 4.9 percent lower than a year ago, with 14 of 104 reactors offline.

Southern Co. shut the 883-megawatt Hatch 2 plant after the unit operated at full power yesterday. The plant went down for scheduled refueling and maintenance, Mark Sullivan, a company spokesman based in Birmingham, said in an e-mail.

Hatch 1 remained closed after a manual shutdown Feb. 10 due to a water leak in the condenser, which cools steam after it passes through the turbine. The units, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Vidalia, Georgia, can produce a combined 1,759 megawatts.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry 3, a 1,115-megawatt unit 32 miles west of Huntsville, Alabama, was shut yesterday for maintenance on the condenser cooling water. Groundwater from rain damaged the system, Mike Bradley, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

The unit will return to the grid before Browns Ferry 2 is shut in mid-March for a 45-day refueling outage, said Bradley, based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Turkey Point

NextEra Energy Inc.’s Turkey Point 3, a 720-megawatt reactor, tripped offline late yesterday after “a loss of condenser vacuum,” a filing with the commission showed. The plant is about 20 miles south of Miami.

The shutdowns pushed output in the Southeast down 1,938 megawatts, or 6.9 percent, the fourth straight decline. The region has six of the nation’s 14 shut reactors, and output was the lowest for the date in records going back to 1997.

Turkey Point 4 remains down for a four-month refueling and maintenance project, which began Nov. 5. Duke Energy Corp. said Feb. 5 that it will permanently shut its Crystal River 3 reactor in Florida, which has been closed since 2009.

In the Northeast, Entergy Corp.’s 685-megawatt Pilgrim 1 reactor remained shut today after losing outside power during a blizzard. While off-site power was restored, the plant will stay closed for repairs to a safety relief valve, the NRC said.

Reactor maintenance shutdowns, usually undertaken in the U.S. spring or fall when energy use is at its 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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