Nuclear output rises as NextEra returns Turkey Point 3 to grid

, Bloomberg

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U.S. nuclear-power production rose for the first time since Feb. 10 as NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. increased output by reactors in the Southeast.

Generation gained 0.1 percent to 86,847 megawatts, or 85 percent of capacity, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Output was 2.7 percent lower than a year ago, with 14 of 104 reactors offline.

NextEra's Turkey Point 3, a 720-megawatt Florida unit, operated at 13 percent of capacity Friday. The reactor was shut Feb. 11 for "operators to investigate equipment challenges on the non-nuclear side of the plant," Bianca Cruz, a plant spokeswoman based in Homestead, said in an e-mail.

Turkey Point 4 remains shut for a four-month refueling and maintenance project that began Nov. 5.

Duke returned the 938-megawatt Brunswick 1 to full power. The unit, 40 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, was at 95 percent of capacity Thursday.

Production gained the most since Feb. 4 in the Southeast, while output was lower than year-earlier levels in all regions.

Reactor maintenance shutdowns, usually undertaken in the U.S. spring or fall when energy use is at its lowest, may increase consumption of natural gas and coal to generate electricity. The average refueling down time was 46 days in 2012, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

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