Duke Energy plans to have all of its nuclear reactors in operation to meet demand triggered by this week’s cold weather, forecast to be some of the coldest of the winter in the utility’s Carolina Service area.
That includes Brunswick Nuclear Plant Unit 1 which was shut down early Sunday afternoon after fire and explosion triggered an alert, the power plant said in an event report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The event, which damaged an electrical panel, occurred while the reactor was operating at 88% of capacity, coasting down towards its biannual refueling outage, Duke spokeswoman Karen Williams said.
Four hours later the Alert was downgraded to "Unusual Event," the lowest of four nuclear emergency classifications, Duke said in a statement Sunday evening.
While all event classifications were ended at 6:14 p.m. Sunday, the Unit 1 shut-down continued Monday and Tuesday while plant staff investigated the event, NRC spokesman Joey Ledford said.
Unit 2 was unaffected by this event and continues to operate at 100% power, the utility said.
“Our plan is to restart the unit and run until the refueling outage.” Williams said Tuesday afternoon.
Last year, Unit 2’s refueling outage began Feb. 20 after a one-week delay due to forecasts of the winter’s second polar vortex – a blast of cold that triggered record power demand across the Carolinas and Virginia.
Brunswick Unit 1 provides 8.7% of the output of Duke’s 11 reactors in North and South Carolina – or roughly 4.4% of the utility’s generating capacity in the two states.