Nuclear Output Rises as Southeast Jumps to Seasonal High

U.S. nuclear-power production increased as output by three reactors lifted Southeastern generation to the highest seasonal level since 1998. The Northeast climbed to a one-month high.

Nationwide output advanced 1.5 percent to 79,732 megawatts, or 78 percent of capacity, the biggest gain since March 22, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 0.2 percent less than a year earlier, with 21 of 104 nuclear reactors offline.

Nuclear production in the Southeast, the NRC’s Region 2, rose to 26,078 megawatts after Scana Corp.’s Summer 1 returned to full power. The 966-megawatt reactor, 26 miles (42 kilometers) northeast of Columbia, South Carolina, operated at 38 percent of capacity yesterday after completing mid-cycle maintenance that began on March 22, the company said.

“One of our pump’s back-up seals was not performing as desired,” Dan Gatlin, vice president of nuclear operations for Cayce, South Carolina-based Scana, said in a statement. “The shutdown has addressed that issue.”

Southern Co. boosted the 1,127-megawatt Vogtle 2 to 45 percent of capacity, from 26 percent yesterday, following planned refueling. During the work, crews installed a digital feed water control system and upgraded plant systems and components, according to a company statement today.

The company returned the 883-megawatt Hatch 2 plant to full power from 99 percent after temporarily reducing output to focus on a pump. Both Hatch 2 and Vogtle 2 are in Georgia.

One-Month High

Generation in the Northeast, the NRC’s Region 1, rose to 22,805 megawatts as Entergy Corp. increased output to 82 percent at the 1,025-megawatt Indian Point 3. The unit, located about 27 miles north of New York City, is returning to full power after completing a 28-day refueling shutdown, according to a company statement April 1.

Indian Point 3 led the production increase in the Northeast, followed by the 685-megawatt Pilgrim 1 reactor, also operated by Entergy. The plant, about 38 miles southeast of Boston, increased generation by 14 megawatts to 86 percent of capacity, according to commission data compiled by Bloomberg.

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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