Vogtle’s Unit 2 was taken offline to allow workers to replace fuel rods and perform maintenance, said Alyson Fuqua, a spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear.
The process, which typically takes about 25 days and brings about 800 temporary workers to the site, occurs in 18-month intervals and is the first post-Fukushima refueling at the Burke County plant.
Though U.S. nuclear power operations are under enhanced scrutiny after the meltdown of damaged reactors in Japan, no changes are under way at Vogtle.
“There have been no specific actions put in place for the fall outages related to Fukushima,” Fuqua said. “Southern Nuclear continues to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry to determine if any follow-up actions are needed in the short and long term based upon the events and lessons learned.”
Such scheduled reactor shutdowns typically cost plant owners about $1 million a day in lost revenues.
Vogtle’s Unit 1, which has briefly been shut down twice this year because of unforeseen equipment issues, was operating at 100 percent capacity, according to the NRC.
Plant Hatch, near Baxley in south Georgia, was operating at reduced capacity, the NRC reported. Unit 1 was at 84 percent power, and Unit 2 was at 91 percent.
Fuqua said the reductions are intentional.
“Both Hatch units have been at slightly reduced power at different times throughout the summer,” she said. “This is due to the high heat and ambient conditions. This is precautionary and allows us to preserve and protect our equipment.”
At full power, Vogtle and Hatch generate 20 percent of the electricity used by Georgia Power, which serves 2.25 million customers in all but four of the state’s 159 counties.
Two additional reactors are planned for the Vogtle site. The NRC is scheduled to meet Sept. 27 to discuss Southern Nuclear’s request for a combined operating license that would authorize both
the construction and operation of the two new reactors.