U.S. Western Nuclear Production Gains Most in Six Months

Nuclear-power production in the U.S. West soared the most in more than five months as South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co. raised output by the 1,410-megawatt South Texas 2 reactor.

Nationwide generation increased 1.9 percent from yesterday to 76,549 megawatts, or 75 percent of capacity, the biggest gain since March 1, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 0.4 percent less than a year ago with 23 of 104 reactors shut.

South Texas 2, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Houston, operated at 65 percent of capacity, up from 19 percent yesterday. The unit was forced to halt in early January after a main transformer fire, according to commission filings. The reactor and its twin, South Texas 1, are the largest in the NRC’s Western region.

The 649-megawatt boost at South Texas 2 contributed to a regional output gain of 6.8 percent, to 16,081 megawatts, the biggest since Nov. 12.

Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Comanche Peak 1 reactor, near Dallas, also contributed to the advance after rising 372 megawatts to 76 percent of capacity. The 1,200-megawatt unit, which was shut for refueling, ran at 45 percent yesterday.

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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