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North Carolina’s oldest nuclear reactor is back in operation after a cold-delayed biannual refueling and a reactor in Pennsylvania is just shutting down for maintenance.

The ramp-up of Brunswick Nuclear Plant Unit 2 in Southport, NC, extended throughout the week by equipment tests following the reactor’s early Easter Sunday restart, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesman Roger Hannah said.

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Just before dawn Friday, Duke Energy notified the NRC the GE boiling water reactor was operating at 95 percent of capacity. It began operations in 1975, two years before Brunswick Nuclear Unit 1.

The refueling outage began Feb. 20 after a one week delay due to forecasts of the winter’s second polar vortex, GE Hitachi Field Services Vice President Beth Lemmons said.

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During the outage, GE Hitachi technicians worked under the reactor to replace components in the reactor pressure vessel, she said.

On Feb. 20, utilities throughout Virginia and the Carolinas reported record demand.

In the hour ending at 8 a.m. that Friday morning, Duke Energy Progress recorded demand of 15,575 megawatt-hours, topping the previous all-time peak of 14,519 megawatt-hours set during the season’s first polar blast five weeks earlier.

During the same hour Duke Energy Carolinas had record demand of 21,101 megawatt-hours, exceeding the previous peak of 20,799 megawatt-hours set during the 2014 polar vortex.

Work during Unit 2’s refueling included completion of post-Fukushima modifications required by the NRC, Duke’s Rita Sipes said.

Meanwhile, operators at PPL’s Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Berwick, PA, disconnected the Unit 2 reactor from the electric grid late Friday to begin a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

With the reactor down, workers will replace about 40 percent of the uranium fuel and complete a number of equipment maintenance tasks and upgrades. The plant also will be investing millions to upgrade equipment with state-of-the-art technology and to perform thousands of routine maintenance tasks that keep the plant in good condition.

PPL schedules nuclear refueling and maintenance outages at this time of year, when seasonal temperatures bring less electricity use and the demand on the regional power grid is lower. Each of the two units at the Susquehanna plant goes out of service for refueling and maintenance every 24 months. Unit 1 continues to operate at full power.

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