NRC considers more than 1,400 MW worth of uprate applications

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has 1,493 MW worth of nuclear power plant uprate applications under review, according to a recent summary published on the NRC web site.

The web site summary currently lists 20 nuclear reactors that have power increase or “uprate” requests under review by NRC although not yet actually authorized yet.

Some plants, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s three Browns Ferry reactor units in Alabama are seeking ambitious “extended” uprates. TVA has applied to increase the power levels of the units by 14.3%.

Others on the list that are seeking extended power uprates include Xcel Energy’s (NYSE: XEL) Monticello plant (12.9%) in Minnesota; Entergy’s (NYSE: ETR) Grand Gulf 1 in Mississippi (13.1%); NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) subsidiary Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point 3 and 4 (15%); FPL’s St. Lucie 1 and 2 (11.9%) and Progress Energy’s (NYSE: PGN) Crystal River 3 (15.5%) – which are all located in Florida.

The planned uprate at the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida is intertwined with the ongoing concrete problems that have kept the plant out of service since 2009. Initial damage to the plant’s containment building occurred in late 2009 while workers were creating an opening in the structure in order to install new steam generators. The work caused a delamination (or separation) in the concrete at the periphery of the containment building.

Progress Energy is still diagnosing the exact causes and cost of fixing it. Progress Energy has previously said the reactor might not return to service until 2014. The ultimate fate of the plant and a possible uprate probably won’t be clear until after Progress merges with Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

Duke is seeking a small uprate of less than 2% at its Oconee plant in South Carolina, as well as the dual-unit McGuire plant in North Carolina. Likewise, Progress is seeking an uprate of less than 2% at its Harris plant in North Carolina.

FPL would increase the generating capacity of its four nuclear units by about 100 MW each, the utility said in a recent fact sheet on the Turkey Point and St. Lucie projects in Florida. The estimated cost of the uprates is expected to total approximately $1.5bn – $766m at Turkey Point and $706m at St. Lucie. In addition to the uprate, the cost of changes to the transmission system is estimated at $45m, FPL said.

Other power uprates of less than 2% are being sought at Exelon’s (NYSE: EXC) Braidwood 1 and 2 units and its Byron units 1 and 2, which are all located in Illinois.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.