Coal to pick up slack for offline nuclear: Bentek

Friday, May 13, 2011

About 30 GW of nuclear power are offline across the US - more than one-tenth of it due to damage from severe storms in the Southeast - that could lead to "unexpected supply issues" during the summer, according to a Bentek Energy report.

Twenty-three reactors of the nation's 104 reactors were offline as of Thursday morning, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The current outage total is about 50% more than the 10-year average, Evergreen, Colorado-based-Bentek reported this week. Bentek is a unit of Platts.

As the summer cooling season approaches, coal-fired generation is expected to continue to pick up the slack created by record nuclear outages, with reactors offline for spring refueling, general maintenance - both planned and unplanned - and repairs brought on by severe late-April storms.

More than two weeks after "hundreds of tornadoes [wrecked] power transmission and distribution systems across Alabama, Georgia and other states," the report said. All three reactors at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant representing 3,465 MW remain offline, and the two units at Entergy's Arkansas Nuclear One were cut back and are operating at reduced capacity to ease congestion due to downed transmission lines; however, nearby reactors at Sequoyah and Oconee are operating at or near full capacity.

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