Oconee Nuclear Station (Credit: Duke Energy)The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a request by Duke Energy Carolinas to increase by approximately 1.6% the reactor capacity of Oconee units 1, 2, & 3. 

NRC staff determined that Duke Energy could safely increase all three reactors’ heat output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow.

The power uprate will increase Oconee 1’s generating capacity from approximately 909 to 923MWe, Oconee 2’s from approximately 919 to 933MWe, and Oconee 3’s from approximately 922 to 936MWe. Duke Energy intends to implement each reactor’s power uprate in a phased approach, based on refuelling schedules.

NRC said its safety evaluation of the plant’s proposed power uprate focused on several areas, including the nuclear steam supply systems, instrumentation and control systems, electrical systems, accident evaluations, radiological consequences, fire protection, operations and training, testing, and technical specification changes. 

NRC published a Federal Register notice regarding the Oconee power uprate application in June 2020 providing the public an opportunity to comment or request a hearing. 

Three pressurised water reactors at the Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina have been operating since 1973 and 1974.

Photo: Oconee nuclear station (Credit: Duke Energy)