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US NRC approves 1.66% uprate for Exelon's Peach Bottom nuclear units

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a power uprate for Exelon Generation's Peach Bottom-2 and -3 nuclear units in Delta, Pennsylvania, that will increase the reactors' capacity by an estimated 1.66%, the agency said Friday.

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"Exelon plans to implement the power uprate for both units within 90 days," NRC said.

Currently, each unit's capacity is 1,355 MW. The agency said "the power uprate represents an increase of approximately 20 MW electric over the current gross output for each unit."

NRC staff "determined that Exelon could safely increase the reactors' output primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow, after reviewing Exelon's evaluations showing the plant's design can handle the increased power level," the agency said.

NRC said its safety evaluation "focused on several areas, such as the nuclear steam supply systems, instrumentation and control systems, electrical systems, accident evaluations, radiological consequences, operations and training, testing, and technical specification changes."

Exelon submitted its application requesting the uprate February 17.

Such so-called measurement uncertainty recapture, or MUR, uprates result from the use of more precise instrumentation to measure the feedwater flow used to calculate reactor power.

MUR uprates are particularly cost-effective, leading to a surge in such efforts in the early 2000s, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Through 2011, MUR uprates added about 500 MW in nuclear capacity in the US at a cost of about $63 million, a "small fraction" of the cost of a new plant of that capacity, the IAEA said.

--Steven Dolley,
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,