U.S. Nuclear Output Climbs on Western, Southeastern Gains

U.S. nuclear-power production climbed for a fourth day as three reactors increased output in the Western and Southeastern regions, led by South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co.

Nationwide generation rose 1.2 percent to 77,455 megawatts, or 76 percent of capacity, the highest level since April 13, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 1.3 percent higher than a year ago with 23 of 104 reactors offline.

South Texas Project’s 1,140-megawatt South Texas 2 reactor returned to full power for the first time since a main transformer issue caused an extended forced outage in early January, according to a company statement yesterday.

The unit, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Houston, was at 65 percent of capacity earlier in the day. South Texas 2 and its twin reactor are the largest in the West.

Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Comanche Peak 1, a 1,200-megawatt plant about 66 miles west of Dallas, boosted power to 92 percent of capacity from 76 percent yesterday. The unit had been shut for refueling.

The power increases at South Texas and Comanche Peak drove nuclear generation to 16,756 megawatts in the West, up 4.2 percent from yesterday, according to commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Southeastern production rose 0.9 percent to 25,875 megawatts, a fourth consecutive advance.

Duke Energy Corp.’s McGuire 1 reactor led to the gain in the Southeast after climbing 231 megawatts to operate at 50 percent of capacity, compared with 29 percent yesterday. The reactor is about 15 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

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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