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Three generation records broken as Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 begins refueling outage Wednesday

by on March 26, 2013

(Story by Bill Schalk)

Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 will break its previous records for total generation, capacity factor and days online when it begins its 24th refueling outage Wednesday. Power was reduced to 50 percent Sunday afternoon for equipment testing and the unit will be taken offline Tuesday at midnight.

                                  Cook Nuclear Plant

The 518 consecutive day run since the last refueling outage beats the old record of 471 days set back in 1994. Running continuously between refueling outages is known in the industry as a “breaker-to-breaker run” as the unit’s output circuit breakers remained connected to the transmission grid for the entire 18-month fuel cycle. The projected total fuel cycle generation of 12,970,576 megawatthours and capacity factor of 101.3 percent are also records for Unit 1. It is possible to run at greater than 100 percent capacity by gaining efficiencies through lower than normal lake water temperatures.

“Unit 2 also just completed a breaker-to-breaker run.  So both Cook units are running very well, in fact, better than ever,” said Larry Weber, AEP senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “It’s a tribute to the safety and operational focus of the entire organization, and also the fact that we are doing the right work with quality during our outages.”

Aside from refueling the reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing work, the current outage also includes installation of a new control room annunciator system and two unit auxiliary transformers. There are almost 1,600 annunciators in each control room. They are used as an indicator of the status of equipment or systems and will alarm when conditions are outside set parameters. The new digital computer-screen system will replace existing push-button analog controls. The new system was installed in the Control Room Simulator last October so operators are already fully trained for when the new system goes into service after the outage. The unit auxiliary transformers reduce voltage on a small portion of the output of the main generator to power plant equipment during normal operation.

Those two projects are part of the $1 billion Life Cycle Management project that replaces and upgrades various systems and equipment on both Cook units with the latest technologies. “This investment in Cook not only increases safety margins, but will provide our customers predictably low-cost and reliable generation for an additional 20-years past the original licensed life of the plant,” added Weber. The LCM project improvements will be made on the units during regularly scheduled refueling outages.

Over the course of the outage, about 1,000 contracted workers will supplement the regular 1,198-person plant staff. More than 11,000 maintenance, inspection and equipment modification job activities totaling more than 240,000 work-hours are scheduled for two daily 12-hour work shifts throughout the outage. The expected outage duration is not released for commercial reasons.

At full capacity, the 1,030-net MW Unit 1 and 1,077-net MW Unit 2 combined produce enough electricity for more than one and one half million average homes.

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