BERWICK, Pa., March 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ending the longest run of simultaneous operation of both units at PPL Corporation's Susquehanna nuclear power plant in northeastern Pennsylvania, operators safely shut down the Unit 1 reactor on Tuesday (3/2) to begin a planned refueling and maintenance outage.
Breaking a plant record set in 1995, the two units together operated for 287 days. The previous record was 285 days.
"Setting records like this is a tribute to the skill and dedication of the men and women who safely and reliably operate and maintain the Susquehanna nuclear plant," said Timothy S. Rausch, PPL's senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. "The two units have both safely been generating electricity continuously since Unit 2 started up after its refueling outage in spring 2009.
"And it's not the only record the plant has set recently," Rausch added. "In 2009, the two units set a plant record for electricity produced and Unit 2 became the second-longest running nuclear unit in U.S. history with its 723-day run."
Since its last refueling outage in 2008, Unit 1 has safely and reliably generated about 19,281,000 megawatt-hours of electricity -- enough to power about 1 million homes.
While the Unit 1 reactor is shut down, workers will replace about 40 percent of its uranium fuel and complete a number of equipment maintenance tasks and upgrades. The equipment maintenance to be performed will enhance reliability and help meet the growing demand for electricity to power the region's economy.
"Additional work will be done during this outage to continue the four-year project begun in 2008 to increase the amount of electricity the Susquehanna nuclear plant can safely and reliably generate," Rausch said. "The project -- which is expected to conclude in 2011 -- is a cost-effective, safe and reliable way for PPL to increase electricity generation from existing sources that emit no greenhouse gases."
This year's upgrade work on Unit 1 includes installing a new state-of-the-art integrated digital control system for plant equipment and replacement of turbines that power pumps that provide water to the reactor vessel.
PPL schedules nuclear refueling and maintenance outages at this time of year, when electricity use decreases because of milder weather. Each unit at the Susquehanna plant is taken out of service for refueling and maintenance every 24 months.
During each outage, more than 1,000 additional workers, including PPL employees from other locations and contractors, come to the Susquehanna plant site near Berwick to help with the many jobs involved in refueling and maintaining the unit, Rausch said.
"All of the extra workers are a boost for the local economy, providing welcome revenue for local businesses including restaurants, stores, hotels and short-term rental properties," Rausch said.
The Susquehanna plant, located in Luzerne County about seven miles north of Berwick, is owned jointly by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by PPL Susquehanna.
PPL Susquehanna is one of PPL Corporation's generating facilities. Headquartered in Allentown, Pa., PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) owns or controls nearly 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to about 4 million customers in Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom. More information is available at www.pplweb.com.
SOURCE PPL Susquehanna