Monday, February 4, 2019

Exelon: PA Nuclear Plants Operate At Full Power During Record-Breaking Polar Vortex; PJM Reported No Major Problems

On February 4, Exelon Generation reported its Pennsylvania nuclear plants operated at full power, producing enough electricity to keep five million homes and businesses safe and warm during the recent polar vortex.  
Daytime temperatures in the Philadelphia region dipped to six degrees Fahrenheit last week and wind chill factors were recorded as low as minus 35, breaking a record set back in 1948.
"Our nuclear facilities are among the safest and most reliable power plants in the country, and we are dedicated to being online when customers need us most, even in the most frigid weather conditions,” said Exelon’s Chief Nuclear Officer, Bryan Hanson. "Thank you to the thousands of nuclear employees who braved the freezing cold and kept our fleet operating during this period of high demand. Pennsylvania residents shouldn’t have to choose between clean energy and reliability -- our safe and well-run nuclear facilities deliver both.”
Exelon Generation's nuclear fleet, which includes 13 facilities in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, recorded near-perfect reliability last winter as well.
During the 2014 Polar Vortex, Exelon Generation’s nuclear fleet was critical to meeting electricity demand, as coal piles froze, and natural gas supplies were re-routed for home heating.
Winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and spare equipment is ready for inclement weather.
This fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation-operated facilities for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions and heavy snowfall.  
These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and "winter readiness" maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.
PJM Interconnection
On January 31, peak morning demand for PJM Interconnection ranked within the grid operator’s top 10 winter peaks for the last five years as utility customers in the region tried to stay warm.  The top 10 takeaways from the polar vortex event for PJM, as reported by the Energy News Network--
-- Business closures helped moderate peak demand
-- The system basically performed as expected
-- Changes made after the 2014 polar vortex helped too
-- Generators were prepared for extreme cold
-- Coal and natural gas plants did not have fuel problems
-- Solar and wind generation kept performing
-- Prices did not skyrocket out of control.
(Photo: Exelon’s Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant.)

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