PSEG has 3 nuclear refueling outages set in 2013

Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) (NYSE:PEG) has three refueling and maintenance outages scheduled at its nuclear units during 2013.

This spring a refueling outage is scheduled at Salem Unit 1. In the fall, PSEG will see scheduled outages at both Hope Creek and Peach Bottom 3 nuclear units. The company’s top management updated nuclear, solar and other key infrastructure issues during financial analyst presentations on March 1 and March 8.

Here’s a nuclear rundown:

** Hope Creek is a 1,174-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) that is 100% owned by PSEG. It is licensed to operate through 2046.

** Salem 1 and 2 are pressurized water reactors (PWRs) with total capacity of 2,326 MW. Salem 1 and 2 are licensed to run until 2036 and 2040. Salem 2 is scheduled to refuel in spring 2014. Salem is 57% owned by PSEG and 43% by Exelon (NYSE:EXC).

** Peach Bottom 2 and 3 are BWRs with a combined capacity of 2,245 MW. Ownership is divided 50/50 between PSEG and Exelon. Exelon runs the station. Licenses for the units expire in 2033 and 2034 respectively. Unit 2’s next refueling is scheduled for fall 2014. Peach Bottom is located in Pennsylvania while the other two nuclear stations are in New Jersey.

In addition an extended power uprate, which should increase the Peach Bottom generating capacity by 130 MW should go into service in 2015 or 2016, according to the PSEG presentations.

The company’s nuclear capacity was more than 90% in 2012 and the natural gas plant forced outage rate was very low, PSEG Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo during a March 1 analyst day. “We eked out” more generation at PSEG nuclear plants and the company is beginning to grow its non-utility solar business, Izzo said.

Solar, natural gas growth also cited

PSEG’s power subsidiary added 400 MW of new natural gas peakers in time to respond to summer demand, PSEG told financial analysts.

During the past year, PSEG has successfully extended contracts with five of its six labor unions at “fair and reasonable terms,” Izzo said.

PSEG Solar Source has completed 69 MW of new generation and has an additional 19 MW, under construction. PSEG Solar Source has six projects in different parts of the country and all six have long-term off-take agreements.

PSEG has a diverse generation fleet with more than 13,000 MW of capacity that is fueled by 45% natural gas; 28% nuclear and 18% coal. The rest is divided between oil and pumped storage.

PSEG Power’s fossil fleet availability has shown steady improvement in recent years, officials said. The combined-cycle fleet efficiency has shown efficiency, officials said. For example, the heat rate was less than 7,500 BTU/KWh in 2012, according to the presentation.

Much of the company’s pipeline capacity can easily access Marcellus shale natural gas, the company said.

Izzo also hailed the performance of PSEG workers during Hurricane Sandy, including the temporary closure of nuclear units and restoring power service.

Pending deactivation of roughly 12,600 MW of coal generating capacity in the Northeast region should drive down PJM’s reserve margin from more than 25% to less than 20% in the next couple of years, according to PSEG.

PSEG is planning a $6.1bn capital spending program that’s will be implemented by the end of 2015. PSEG also has several key electric transmission projects expected to enter service by the end of 2015. The wires projects include the 230-kV Burlington – Camden project and the 230-kV Mickleton – Gloucester-Camden project.

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.