Outages at US nuclear plants hit four-year-high in Spring 2011

19 October 2011

Outages at US nuclear power plants reached the highest levels for four years in the second quarter of 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). However, they have returned to more typical seasonal levels since the start of July 2011.

Credit: US Energy Information Administration

Like most electric generators, nuclear reactor operators typically schedule maintenance in the spring and the fall to help ensure that the reactors are available to meet peak electric demand in the summer and winter.

Spring 2011 nuclear outages were unusually high due to the confluence of the refueling season and several forced outages, including outages due to weather events (such as tornadoes or flooding).

In May 2011, around 30GW of nuclear capacity was offline. This represents over 30% of the installed nuclear capacity in the United States.

Notable units in extended outage include:

Both of Dominion Power's North Anna reactors in Virginia remain offline following the earthquake on 23 August.

Omaha Public Power District's Fort Calhoun reactor initially went offline on 10 April for refueling and has since remained offline due to flooding on the Missouri River.

Progress Energy Florida's Crystal River unit three has been offline since September 2009 to repair the reactor containment. After evaluating whether the unit should be repaired, Progress announced that it will spend $0.9 to $1.3 billion to bring the unit back online in 2014.

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