ANS Report Shows Fleet Operates at More Than 90 Percent of Capacity
- By Linton Levy -
Nuclear energy continues to be the most reliable energy source in the United States with Entergy’s nuclear fleet leading the way, according to a report released by the American Nuclear Society.
In the report released in May 2010, the median rating capacity factor for Entergy’s 11 nuclear plants was 90.8 percent during the three-year period between 2007 and 2009. This means overall Entergy’s nuclear plants were online producing safe, low-cost energy more than 90 percent of the time, ranking third in the industry among companies owning five or more nuclear plants.Entergy’s nuclear accomplishments are significant when compared to the capacity factors of other forms of energy.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, over the same three-year period steam turbine coal plants managed a capacity factor of 70.8 percent while combined cycle natural gas plants only managed to produce a capacity factor of 41.7 percent and wind at 31.1 percent.
Considering production costs at nuclear power plants in 2008 averaged 1.87 cents perKilowatt-hour, cheaper than coal (2.75 cents) and natural gas-fueled (8.09 cents) plants, the reliability demonstrated by these results equates to significant savings on customer’s energy bills.
This time frame also saw significant improvement in performance among plants within the Entergy fleet. Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson, Miss, which recorded a capacity factor of 84.5 percent in 2007, improved to 92.4 percent at the end of 2009.
With its recent refueling outage, Grand Gulf began activities for its energy power upgrade, which will make the plant the single most powerful unit in the nation, increasing Grand Gulf’s output by 178 Megawatts (MW) and bringing total output to 1,478 MW. One megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes.
River Bend Nuclear Station in St. Francisville, La., which recorded a capacity factor of only 84.1 percent in 2007, improved to 94.5 percent in 2009.
Leading Entergy’s fleet in reaching its full capacity was James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Facility in Oswego, New York, recording an average capacity factor of 97.9 percent and ranking fourth nationally during the three-year period. Close behind was Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center’s Unit 2 in Buchanan, New York, with a median capacity factor of 94.5 percent. Vermont Yankee Energy Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, logged a three-year average of 92.2 percent.
“Our obligation to our customers is to provide safe, reliable, affordable energy every day of the year,” said John Herron, chief nuclear officer for Entergy Corporation. “This can only be done through a commitment to performance excellence that cannot be compromised.”
Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and more than 15,000 employees.