Grand Gulf to be the Largest Single Nuclear Plant in the U.S., if approved

"It's a big endeavor for the station, because safety is our number one priority," said Randy Douet, the plant's vice president.

- Edited By Chris Reed -

According to, Entergy Mississippi this month will present its plans for a $510 million expansion of the Grand Gulf nuclear plant to federal regulators. If approved, Grand Gulf would make it the largest single-reactor nuclear plant in the nation.

With approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the utility would increase the plant's output from 1,265 megawatts to 1,443 - a 13 percent increase, Entergy officials said.

After the upgrade, Grand Gulf will be able to produce enough electricity to power an additional 53,000 homes for the life of the plant. The average home uses about 1,000 Kw-h per month, company spokeswoman Mara Hartmann said.

The upgrade is scheduled for February 2012 during regular maintenance outages, pending federal approval. Entergy expects it will take at least a few weeks, but has no definitive timetable for the expansion.

"It's a big endeavor for the station, because safety is our number one priority," Randy Douet, the plant's vice president, told The Clarion-Ledger's editorial board Monday. "We're basically making what we have run at higher power."

The Mississippi Public Service Commission already has backed the effort, but federal approval is needed before work can start.

Entergy Mississippi President Haley Fisackerly says the NRC will receive documents including the plant's design and various engineering data. Some new equipment will be needed, too.

Douet says it typically takes the NRC 11 months to review this type of proposal and he doesn't expect any problems because the upgrades are standard for a growing nuclear facility.

If the federal agency finds that tweaks to the plan are needed, those can be incorporated into the plans before February 2012, he said.

On the slight chance a major problem will arise, the company can delay the upgrades, Douet said.

A separate, $4 billion expansion to add a second reactor at the site remains on hold pending a significant economic recovery, the officials said. In January 2009, Entergy withdrew plans for the new reactor.

The planned updates in 2012 will add about 1,500 temporary jobs in construction, engineering and technical areas, company officials said.

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