Heat Wave Stresses US Electricity Grid

8:23 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

note: For an excellent summary of the US Drought 2012 and its implications and historical context, please visit WeatherDem’s post here.

A reactor shut down button labelled 'SCRAM!'

Photo: Alan Levine / Flickr

On Wednesday, four giant nuclear reactors shut down, in New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Maryland, in response to the heat wave. According to a report, Nine Mile Point 1 nuclear reactor in New York, automatically shut down due to high neutron flux, “meaning neutrons are not equally spread around the reactor core.”

In Pennsylvania, Exelon Corporation shut down Unit 1 at Limerick. According to Reuters:

Exelon Corp shut down the
1,130-megawatt (MW) Unit 1 at the Limerick nuclear power plant
in Pennsylvania early Wednesday following an electrical
disturbance on the non-nuclear side of the plant, the company
said in a release.

The outage came at a bad time for the power grid: Homes and
businesses in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic are cranking up their air
conditioners amid a brutal heat wave blanketing the region.

The electrical disturbance caused a loss of power to
generator cooling equipment, the company said. The unit will
remain offline until repairs, inspections and testing are
completed, it said.

In South Carolina, the Charlotte Observer explains that the nuclear plants experienced problems prior to the current heat wave event:

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