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Problems of New England nuclear reactors most are offline

Most NE nuclear power offline due to timing fluke and problem, CT Mirror, CAll but unnoticed as the coronavirus pandemic tears through the Northeast: the New England power grid is without 75% of its nuclear power – with more to go.  by JAN ELLEN SPIEGEL, APRIL 3, 2020

Many nuclear power plants schedule refueling operations in spring and fall when electricity demand is lower, and that is the case in New England, where the three remaining nuclear plants typically supply about one-third of the electricity. The Seabrook Nuclear plant in New Hampshire went offline on Tuesday for its refueling – that’s 1,245 megawatts of power. Unit 2 of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station, with about 870 megawatts, is due for refueling this spring as well.

But in the meantime, Millstone Unit 3,  which carries about 1,230 megawatts , tripped offline less than a day after the Seabrook shutdown due to a circuit fault between the main generator and the switchyard, according to Kenneth Holt, spokesman for the plant’s owner Dominion Energy. The automatic reactor protection system kicked in as it was supposed to and the plant was shut down.

As of Friday noon, the grid mix showed nuclear at 8% and natural gas at a whopping 68%.

While the situation is abnormal and the timing with the health emergency a fluke, it does not pose any special risks for the region, especially since the demand for power is lower than normal because so much commerce and industry has temporarily shut down. ……

Nuclear plants have some wiggle room, but not a lot, for refueling. In the case of Millstone, each unit is refueled every 18 months in an alternating rotation. Unit 3, the one offline now, is due for refueling in the fall.  Refueling takes about one month during which one-third of the plant’s nuclear rods, which are about one foot-by-one foot by 12 to 14 feet long, are replaced. They last about 4.5 years.


    April 4, 2020 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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