Exelon (NYSE:EXC) said Feb. 15 that it has started a regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage at Unit 1 of the LaSalle nuclear station in Illinois.
In addition, Exelon also said that it will be employing a virtual reality camera to assist with the plant upkeep chores during the outage.
A virtual reality camera, which captures high-definition, 360-degree footage inside the plant, is being used for the first time during the station’s refueling outage. Previously, supervisors used diagrams, photos and drawings to prepare their teams for work being done inside the plant.
Use of this innovative technology allows workers to get a 360-view of plant components and systems, which help workers visualize and understand the scope of the project before setting one-foot into a designated work area.
LaSalle Station is bringing in more than 1,400 supplemental workers to help support the 800 employees during the outage. These additional workers provide a temporary boost to communities in the area with many of the workers staying in area hotels, shopping at local stores and eating at restaurants. During the LaSalle Unit 2 outage in 2015, the station spent more than $52m with local vendors and payroll for its supplemental workers.
During the refueling outage workers will perform approximately 14,000 maintenance and refurbishment activities that cannot be performed while the unit is operating. The work tasks are designed to enhance the unit’s ability to provide reliable, carbon-free electricity for years to come.
LaSalle has two reactors, each of which is refueled once every 24 months. LaSalle 1 conducted an 18-day refueling and maintenance outage during February of 2014, according to records posted online by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).
Approximately one-third of the unit’s fuel will be replaced. LaSalle Unit 2 will continue to generate electricity during the Unit 1 outage.
At full power the facility’s two generating units produce more than 2,300 MW of carbon-free electricity. The company is seeking a 20-year license extension for the two LaSalle nuclear units. Exelon has been trying to keep the Illinois nuclear plants open via an Illinois Clean Energy standard that would include nuclear energy.
Approximately 90% of the carbon-free power in Illinois is produced by Exelon’s six nuclear facilities in the state.
The Exelon-operated Calvert Cliffs Unit 1 in Maryland also started a refueling outage Feb. 15, the company announced.