Power uprates for Oconee units okayed

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Duke Energy’s February 2020 request to increase the capacity of the Oconee nuclear power plant’s three reactors by approximately 1.64 percent, the agency announced February 3. The agency added that the boost to the units’ heat output could be accomplished largely through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow. The license amendments authorizing the uprates were issued to Duke on January 26.

Specifics: Located in Seneca, S.C., Oconee houses three two-loop pressurized water reactors. The power uprates will raise the generating capacities of the units as follows:

  • Unit 1, from about 909 MWe to 923 MWe
  • Unit 2, from about 919 MWe to 933 MWe
  • Unit 3, from about 922 MWe to 936 MWe

Duke intends to implement each reactor’s uprate in a phased approach based on refueling schedules, the NRC said.

EIA: Nine of top 10 electricity generators in 2019 were nuclear plants

Graph: EIA

Of the 10 U.S. power plants that generated the most electricity in 2019, nine were nuclear plants, a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states.

These 10 facilities produced a combined 230 million megawatt hours of electricity last year, accounting for 5.6 percent of all electricity generation in the United States, according to the report. The report also notes a shift in the makeup of the top plants over the past 10 years, from a mix of nuclear and coal-fired generators in 2010 to nearly all nuclear in 2019.

Coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation dropped from 45 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2019, the reports says. Stricter air emission standards and decreased cost competitiveness relative to other generators are given as the key reasons for coal’s decade of decline.