US Nuclear Operates At ‘Nearly 100 Percent’ Capacity During Record Cold

Posted by NucNet on 10 January 2014 in NucNet

Nuclear power stations in the US operated at “nearly 100 percent” capacity during record cold temperatures experienced in the US this week, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has said.

NEI senior vice-president of communications Scott Peterson said all of the country’s 100 commercially operational nuclear power units were online and operating at an average capacity factor of 97 percent.

“The plants are running at nearly 100 percent of capacity, helping meet record demand for electricity in some states,” Mr Peterson told NucNet.

“No nuclear energy facility has reported unusual issues during the cold snap, due in part to plant procedures to ensure continued safe operations in extreme weather conditions.”

The cold temperatures caused “extraordinary electricity demand” which led to system records, the NEI said.

The Tennessee Valley Authority reported that the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah and Watts Bar nuclear plants were operating at 100 percent capacity to provide 21 percent of the 32,460-megawatt peak demand on 7 January.

In the New England states, nuclear power plants provided 29 percent of electricity because of decreased output from natural gas plants. Natural gas typically accounts for more than half of the region’s power generation, but fuel was diverted away from power plants to heat homes in the extreme cold, the NEI said.

Mr Peterson said that other sources of electricity, such as natural gas, were “constrained” due to reduced capacity of pipelines and other factors.