U.S. Nuclear-Power Output Slides Near One-Year Low

Apr 10, 2014 2:32 pm ET

(Corrects to say Seabrook 1 reactor is owned by NextEra Energy Inc. in seventh paragraph of story that ran yesterday.)

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. nuclear-power production tumbled to the lowest level in almost a year after a New Jersey reactor unexpectedly closed, boosting total plant shutdowns for planned and unplanned work to 19.

Generation, based on nameplate capacity, slid 0.7 percent to 81,210 megawatts from 81,818 yesterday, the lowest level since April 30, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 1.7 percent below year- ago levels.

Unplanned reactor shutdowns add to seasonal closures for refueling, as plants take advantage of a lull in demand during mild weather to replace spent fuel rods. Eight units were offline in the Southeast, four in the Northeast and West and three in the Midwest, NRC data show.

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. manually shut the Salem 1 reactor in New Jersey yesterday after loss of a steam generator feed pump led to low water levels, said Joe Delmar, a company spokesman based in Newark, New Jersey.

“Troubleshooting is in progress,” Delmar said by e-mail. “A return to service is unavailable at this time.”

The 1,170-megawatt unit, located about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Wilmington, Delaware, operated at 100 percent of capacity yesterday. Unit 2 remained at full power.

U.S. northeastern nuclear output retreated by 4.8 percent to 20,696 megawatts, a one-month low, according to NRC data. Dominion Inc.’s Millstone 2 in Connecticut, Exelon Corp.’s Nine Mile Point 2 in New York and NextEra Energy Inc.’s Seabrook 1 in New Hampshire are offline for refueling.

In the Southeast, seven reactors were shut for scheduled maintenance, while Southern Co.’s Vogtle 2 plant went offline automatically yesterday because of water level changes in the plant’s feedwater system. Output in the region rose 1.5 percent to 23,994 megawatts, NRC data showed.

Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Comanche Peak 2 reactor in Texas and FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis Besse 1 plant in Ohio are shut for planned work.