Dominion Kewaunne Shutdown Sends U.S. Nuclear Power Lower

U.S. nuclear-power production declined for a second day after Dominion Resources Inc. permanently shuttered the 556-megawatt Kewaunee 1 reactor in Wisconsin.

Nationwide generation fell 0.6 percent to 81,677 megawatts, or 80 percent of capacity, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 2 percent lower than a year ago with 19 of 104 reactors shut.

Dominion closed Kewaunee yesterday after almost 39 years of operation, according to a company statement. The plant is on Lake Michigan 27 miles (43 kilometers) southeast of Green Bay.

“The decision was based purely on economics,” David Heacock, chief nuclear officer at Dominion, said in the statement. The plant’s “power purchase agreements were ending at a time of projected low wholesale electricity prices in the region,” Dominion said.

The shutdown of Kewaunee pushed Midwestern nuclear output lower by 3.3 percent to 16,106 megawatts, the biggest decline since April 27. The Northeast also posted a decline, falling 0.2 percent to 19,939 megawatts as Entergy Corp. lowered the 852-megawatt FitzPatrick reactor to 84 percent of capacity from 89 percent yesterday.

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 46 days in 2012, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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