Power, Infrastructure, Hurricanes, and Emergencies

by L J Furman, MBA on November 1, 2012

in Connecting the Dots, Hurricane Sandy, Indian Point, Nuclear Energy, Oyster Creek, Vermont Yankee

Hurricane Sandy, the 1,000 mile diameter storm brought rain, wind, water and power failures to 10.4 million from North Carolina up to Maine, and west to Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan in the USA and another 145,000 people in Canada, over 1.5 million people. As NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, here, “We have old infrastructure and new weather patterns… climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable.”

We need to build infrastructure that is more resistant to extreme storms, and resilient in the face of these kinds of storms.

Map showing people without power from Hurricane Sandy

Map showing people without power from Hurricane Sandy

Three nuclear plants were shut down, and three others were brought to lower capacity due to concerns about flooding. Salem 1 in New Jersey, Indian Point 3 in New York and Nine Mile Point 1 in New York shut down.  Millstone 3 in Connecticut, Yankee, in Vermont, and Limerick in Pennsylvania were brought to reduced power.

In addition, because nuclear plants are refueled in spring and fall, several plants were shut down for refueling. The United States nuclear generating system is currently operating at 30% below capacity, see Table 2, below.  However, it must be noted that even when shut-down, nuclear power plants need power for the cooling systems.

Oyster Creek, in the path of the hurricane, inland of some of the hardest hit areas of the Jersey Shore, had been shut down for refueling on 10/22. It’s cooling systems were switched to backup diesel generators due to high water levels in its water-intake structures. Exelon, according to the Wall Street Journal, here, reported that water levels didn’t rise enough to “impact operation of plant equipment.”  NJ.com, here, cited an AP report that water rose 6 feet at Oyster Creek.

Wave driven turbines and geothermal systems can be engineered to be resistant to storms. Solar energy systems obviously won’t work during storms – or at night. However, just as they turn themselves on with the sunrise after an ordinary night, solar energy systems turn themselves on with the sunrise after a storm. Similarly, wind turbines need to be turned in to face the wind to avoid damage during storms and turned on after the storm. Nuclear plants, too, are shut down in hurricanes and floods and turned back on when the floods subside. However, turning on a nuclear plant takes time. Coal plants create tremendous amounts of coal ash, a toxic mess of heavy metals from Arsenic to Zinc, including Mercury, Uranium, Thorium, etc. Under normal conditions this is stored in retention ponds. However in flood conditions all bets are off.

One of the reasons that so many people remain without power is that we have relatively small numbers of very large power plants. To paraphrase NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, “We have old infrastructure and new weather patterns. We need to build infrastructure that is more resistant to extreme storms, and resilient in the face of these kinds storm.” This means less coal and less nuclear, more solar, wind, geothermal, wave power systems, and more efficient use of energy infrastructure.

Monday, 12:25 PM

Satellite image of the storm.

Hurricane Sandy Power Outage
State Without Power
ME 90,727
VT 17,959
NH 141,992
MA 298,072
NY 1,967,874
RI 116,308
CT 626,440
NJ 2,498,447
PA 1,267,512
DE 45,137
MD & DC 314,603
OH 2,542,207
WV 212,183
VA 182,811
NC 4,005
IN 7,527
MI 68,619
USA 10,402,423
Canada 145,000
10,547,423
Source: Huffington Post Graphic
Table 1

Scott DiSavino, reporting for Reuters, wrote, here, US nuclear power outages post-Sandy are second highest in decade.

The following reactors are out of service, according to the NRC.
The list is not comprehensive. Outage duration and restart dates are
tentative and subject to change.

 Total capacity EL-USTOTCAP-MW .........  101,167 MW
 Total out today EL-USOUTAGE-MW ........   30,731 MW (30 percent)
 Total out year-ago ....................   18,459 MW (18 percent)
 5-Year average out ....................   22,640 MW (22 percent)
 Percent change from year-ago ..........      66 percent
 Percent change from 5-yr avg ..........      36 percent

  CURRENT OUTAGES:     
  UNIT            OPERATOR     MW    FUEL   SITE   SHUT    RESTART       
  NORTHEAST (NPCC)     
  Nine Mile 1     Cnstlltn     630   Nuke    NY    Oct 29  Nov 3
  Indian Point 3  Entergy    1,040   Nuke    NY    Oct 29  Nov 3  
  Millstone 2     Dominion     869   Nuke    CT    Oct 8   Nov 7 
  Ginna           Cnstlltn     581   Nuke    NY    Oct 20  Nov 20
-----------------------------------------------------------------     
  PJM     
  Beaver Valley 2 FrstEnrgy    885   Nuke    PA    Sep 24  Nov 1
  Salem 1         PSEG       1,174   Nuke    NJ    Oct 29  Nov 3
  Braidwood 2     Exelon     1,152   Nuke    IL    Oct 15  Nov 14
  Salem 2         PSEG       1,158   Nuke    NJ    Oct 14  Nov 14
  Oyster Creek    Exelon       615   Nuke    NJ    Oct 22  Nov 22
  Susquehanna 1   PPL        1,260   Nuke    PA    Oct 20  Unknown
----------------------------------------------------------------     
  MIDWEST 
  Prairie Isl     Xcel         521   Nuke    MN    Oct 23  Nov 22        
  Duane Arnold    NextEra      601   Nuke    IA    Oct 8   Dec 1     
-----------------------------------------------------------------     
  SOUTHEAST (SERC)     
  McGuire 2       Duke       1,100   Nuke    NC    Sep 15  Nov 1      
  St Lucie 2      NextEra      839   Nuke    FL    Aug 5   Nov 6     
  Summer          Scana        966   Nuke    SC    Oct 15  Nov 17   
  Browns Ferry 1  TVA        1,101   Nuke    AL    Oct 22  Nov 22
  Oconee 1        Duke         846   Nuke    SC    Oct 28  Nov 28
  Sequoyah 2      TVA        1,126   Nuke    TN    Oct 15  Jan 15         
 +Crystal Riv 3   Progress     838   Nuke    FL    Sep '09 2014
-----------------------------------------------------------------     
  SPP     
  Cooper          NPPD         767   Nuke    NE    Oct 13  Nov 13
  Waterford 3     Entergy    1,168   Nuke    LA    Oct 17  Dec 17         
 +Fort Calhoun    OPPD         482   Nuke    NE    Apr '11 2013
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  ERCOT     
  Comanche Peak 2 Luminant   1,197   Nuke    TX    Oct 8   Nov 7     
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  WEST (WECC)   
  Palo Verde 3    APS        1,314   Nuke    AZ    Oct 25  Nov 1
  Palo Verde 2    APS        1,314   Nuke    AZ    Oct 8   Nov 5
 +San Onofre 2    SCE        1,070   Nuke    CA    Jan 10  Unknown     
 +San Onofre 3    SCE        1,080   Nuke    CA    Jan 31  Unknown     
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  FUTURE OUTAGES:      
  UNIT            OPERATOR     MW    FUEL   SITE   SHUT    RESTART      
  NORTHEAST (NPCC)     
  Indian Point 3  Entergy    1,040   Nuke    NY    Mar 8   Apr 8
  Vermont Yankee  Entergy      620   Nuke    VT    Mar 9   Apr 9
  Nine Mile Pt 1  Cnstlltn     630   Nuke    NY    Apr 1   May 1
  Millstone 3     Dominion   1,233   Nuke    CT    Apr 14  May 14
  Pilgrim         Entergy      685   Nuke    MA    Apr 17  Jun 17
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  PJM     
  Dresden 3       Exelon       867   Nuke    IL    Nov 12  Dec 12     
  LaSalle 2       Exelon     1,120   Nuke    IL    Feb 11  Mar 11
  Calvert Clfs 2  Cnstlltn     850   Nuke    MD    Feb 17  Mar 24
  Quad Cities 1   Exelon       882   Nuke    IL    Mar 11  Apr 11
  Cook 1          AEP        1,009   Nuke    MI    Mar 13  Apr 13
  Perry           FrstEnrgy  1,240   Nuke    OH    Mar 18  Apr 18
  Limerick 2      Exelon     1,134   Nuke    PA    Mar 25  Apr 25
  North Anna 2    Dominion     943   Nuke    VA    Apr 7   May 7
  Byron 2         Exelon     1,136   Nuke    IL    Apr 8   May 8 
  Susquehanna 2   PPL        1,190   Nuke    PA    Apr 13  May 25
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  MIDWEST     
  Point Beach 2   NextEra      512   Nuke    WI    Nov 1   Dec 1     
  Monticello      Xcel         554   Nuke    MN    Mar 2   May 11
  Point Beach 1   NextEra      506   Nuke    WI    Mar 18  Apr 22
  Callaway        Ameren     1,190   Nuke    MO    Apr 6   May 6
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  SOUTHEAST (SERC)     
  Surry 2         Dominion     799   Nuke    VA    Nov 1   Nov 28     
  Turkey Point 4  NextEra      693   Nuke    FL    Nov 5   Mar 5     
  Catawba 1       Duke       1,129   Nuke    SC    Nov 19  Dec 19     
  Hatch 2         Southern     883   Nuke    GA    Feb 4   Mar 4
  Brunswick 2     Duke         920   Nuke    NC    Mar 3   Apr 7
  Vogtle 2        Southern   1,152   Nuke    GA    Mar 10  Apr 10
  Browns Ferry 2  TVA        1,104   Nuke    AL    Mar 16  Apr 20
  McGuire 1       Duke       1,100   Nuke    NC    Mar 16  Apr 16
  Farley 2        Southern     860   Nuke    AL    Apr 14  May 19
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  SPP      
  Wolf Creek      Wolf Creek 1,160   Nuke    KS    Feb 4   Mar 4
  River Bend      Entergy      974   Nuke    LA    Feb 12  Mar 12
  Arkansas 1      Entergy      842   Nuke    AR    Mar 13  Apr 13
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  ERCOT      
  South Texas 1   STP        1,280   Nuke    TX    Nov 1  Nov 20     
  Comanche Peak 1 Luminant   1,209   Nuke    TX    Apr 1   May 1
  South Texas 2   STP        1,280   Nuke    TX    Apr 27  May 27
------------------------------------------------------------------     
  WEST (WECC)      
  Diablo Canyon 2 PG&E       1,118   Nuke    CA    Feb 3   Mar 3
  Palo Verde 1    APS        1,311   Nuke    AZ    Mar 30  Apr 30
  Columbia        Energy NW  1,097   Nuke    WA    May 9   Jun 20

* New outage on the list, or new information on outage listed    
+ Unexpected or longer than expected outages, according to Reuters data
Table 2.

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