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Nuclear Refueling Up 5% This Fall

Plants Go Offline

Written by Swagato Chakravorty
Posted August 27, 2012 at 3:50PM

Due to several ongoing nuclear safety checks, this coming autumn refueling season will see the U.S. miss out on about 20,784 megawatts of nuclear energy. That’s about 5 percent or 974 megawatts more than the 19,900 megawatts of nuclear energy capacity that was shut down last year around the same time.

Southern California Edison, the unit of Edison International (NYSE: EIX) which operates the San Onofre reactors in California, has stated that Unit 3 will not be refueling this October due to damage incurred by its steam generators. Earlier in January, Unit 2 had also been shut down for similar reasons.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet signed off on repairs, and SCE is actually planning on reducing staff at the plant later this year.

Meanwhile, the Omaha Public Power District stated that the Fort Calhoun reactor will continue to be powered down for some more months. Attempts to restart that reactor began in September, but it ran into trouble.

After the disaster at Fukushima, domestic nuclear plants are undergoing safety checks to avoid a similar disaster.

Overall, the 104 domestic nuclear reactors generate around 101,200 megawatts of electricity, which is enough for around 80 million households. Their outages are of great interest to natural gas traders, since plants burning gas tend to take up the slack when nuclear reactors go offline. The proportion is, roughly, one billion cubic feet of gas for 5,000 megawatts of electricity.

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