NRC approves major uprate of Entergy’s Grand Gulf nuclear plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said July 19 that it has approved a request by Entergy Operations Inc. to increase the power generating capacity of Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Unit 1 by 15%.

The power uprate for the boiling-water reactor, located about 25 miles south of Vicksburg in Mississippi, will increase the plant’s power generating capacity from about 1,300 MW to about 1,500 MW, the NRC noted. Entergy Operations, a unit of Entergy Corp. (NYSE: ETR), intends to implement the uprate following the spring 2012 refueling outage.

“The NRC staff’s careful evaluation determined that Entergy could safely increase the reactor’s power output primarily by replacing significant portions of several plant systems and components, including the turbine rotors for the reactor feed pumps, power range neutron monitoring system, steam dryer, and the high-pressure turbine,” the agency said. “As part of its evaluation, NRC staff reviewed the company’s analysis showing the plant’s design can accommodate the increased power level.”

The NRC’s safety evaluation of the 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.

Said the Entergy website: “In July of 1985, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson, Miss., made history by becoming the first and only nuclear power plant to produce electricity in Mississippi. Now Grand Gulf is marking another milestone with a power upgrade that will make it the largest single-unit nuclear power plant in the country and fifth largest in the world. Grand Gulf is owned and operated by System Energy Resources, Inc. (90 percent) and South Mississippi Electric Power Association (10 percent). The project will be one of the largest expansions of a nuclear power plant in U.S. history and increase Grand Gulf’s production by more than 13 percent, bringing total output to 1,443 megawatts. The action is part of Entergy’s overall plan to close a growing gap between the amount of power the company produces and the amount that customers use.”

The planned action is to increase the licensed core thermal level of the plant to 4,408 MWt, which represents an increase of approximately 13.1% above the current licensed thermal power of 3,898 MWt and approximately 15% above the original licensing thermal power of 3,833 MWt. The operational goal of the project is a corresponding increase in net electrical output of approximately 178 MWe.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.