APS reports latest sub-30-day outage for a Palo Verde nuclear unit

For the third time in Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station history, Arizona Public Service employees completed a refueling and maintenance outage in less than 30 days.

The company said Nov. 16 that this latest outage set a station record for the shortest outage ever. When Palo Verde Unit 3 reconnected to the electricity grid at 5:37 p.m. Arizona time on Nov. 5, the record was officially in the books at 28 days, 17 hours and 37 minutes. By comparison, the average length of a refueling and maintenance outage at all U.S. reactors in 2015 was 36.3 days, according to industry data.

Palo Verde has three virtually identical 1,330-MW reactors. Unit 3’s planned refueling outage bested the previous Palo Verde record, which was established during the 2014 refueling outage for Unit 2. That outage lasted a total 28 days, 22 hours. The first sub-30 day refueling outage in plant history was set in 2013 when Unit 1 was refueled in 29 days, 18 hours.

Bob Bement, APS Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer, said that customers directly benefit from shorter refueling outages because “the more days Palo Verde is operating rather than in a refueling outage, the more low-cost energy is available to customers across Arizona and the Southwest.”

In 2015, Palo Verde achieved its 24th consecutive year as the nation’s largest power producer with total electricity production of 32.5 billion kilowatt-hours of carbon-free electricity. In addition, Palo Verde Unit 1 produced the highest electricity output of any nuclear unit in the world, and all three Palo Verde units, individually, ranked among the top seven international producers.

Since it began operation in 1986, Palo Verde has produced more than 780 million megawatt-hours of electricity. About half the plant’s output serves Arizona customers with the remaining power spread among California, New Mexico and far west Texas. Palo Verde’s three reactors are part of 99 operating nuclear units in the U.S. and 435 in the world. 

Palo Verde is operated by APS and jointly owned by APS, Salt River ProjectSouthern California EdisonEl Paso ElectricPublic Service Co. of New MexicoSouthern California Public Power Authority and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

APS serves about 2.7 million people in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).

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.