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Exelon's Three Mile Island-1 nuclear unit reducing output before permanent shutdown

Washington — Exelon Generation's 890-MW Three Mile Island-1 nuclear unit in Middletown, Pennsylvania, is reducing its output prior to being permanently shut later this month, the company said Tuesday.

The unit was operating at 97% of capacity early Tuesday morning, down from 99% Monday, 98% Sunday and 100% August 31, according to daily reactor status reports from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"Three Mile Island Unit 1 entered into its final end-of-cycle coast down and will gradually reduce power until the unit shuts down later this month," Exelon said in a statement Tuesday.

The company said in May 2017 that it would close TMI-1 in 2019 because the unit was uneconomic to operate. Exelon notified regional transmission operator PJM Interconnection at that time that the unit "is unprofitable and has lost more than $300 million over the past five years."

The company said May 8 that it would permanently shut TMI-1 by September 30 after Pennsylvania lawmakers failed to pass legislation giving reactors in the state financial support.

That announcement followed a string of closures of nuclear power units in recent years for economic reasons, including sustained low prices of natural gas and in regional power markets. Ten additional nuclear units, including TMI-1, are slated to close in the US over the next several years.

TMI-2 was permanently closed after an accident in March 1979 resulted in a partial meltdown of the reactor core.

-- Steven Dolley,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,