SENECA, S.C., May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy's Oconee Nuclear Station has received the Nuclear Energy Institute's (NEI) prestigious "Best of the Best" Award for the first digital upgrade of a nuclear safety-related system in the U.S.
The award was presented during NEI's Nuclear Energy Assembly on May 23, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C.
Oconee's digital upgrade of a reactor protection system (RPS) and engineered safeguards protection system (ESPS) also received the NEI Vision and Leadership Award. Oconee partnered with AREVA Inc. for this nuclear industry "first-of-a kind" project.
NEI's Maintenance Process Award recognized Oconee's use of a single-pass, fully automated system for steam generator inspection. Duke Energy partnered with Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy Inc. on this effort.
Presented annually, NEI's Top Industry Practice awards recognize innovations that improve safety, efficiency and nuclear plant performance. The Best of the Best Award recognizes the most significant achievement in the nuclear industry during 2012.
"Duke Energy and the Oconee team are honored to receive national recognition for these two projects," said Oconee site Vice President Preston Gillespie. "This is the first digital upgrade of a safety-related nuclear plant system in the United States and the first use of enhanced, automated steam generator inspection technology."
The RPS/ESPS digital system addresses the obsolescence of analog equipment, further protects the integrity of the nuclear fuel and incorporates system enhancements into the overall design. These enhancements include visual, online monitoring and diagnostic capabilities.
The new digital system was installed on unit 1 during the spring 2011 Oconee refueling outage. The system is being installed on unit 3 as part of the current refueling outage and will be installed on unit 2 in 2013.
During a typical Oconee outage, preventive maintenance work is conducted on numerous systems, including each unit's twin steam generators. This new steam generator inspection technology was used for the first time during the 2011 Oconee Unit 1 and 2 refueling outages.
This single-pass, fully automated system incorporates a robot and new analytical tools that further enhance safety and reduce the time and labor needed to perform steam generator inspections.
"These two awards recognize the achievements of the project teams at Oconee and our corporate headquarters. Engineers, technicians and others worked diligently to install and ensure these systems functioned as designed," said Gillespie.
Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 19,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 2.4 million customers in a 24,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., its regulated utility operations serve 4 million electric customers in the Carolinas, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and a half-million natural gas customers in Ohio and Kentucky. Its Commercial Power and International Energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States. A Fortune 500 company, Duke Energy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information is available at: www.duke-energy.com.
SOURCE Duke Energy