Exelon Nuclear is preparing to ask the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to permit its Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station to produce more power.
If the "extended power uprate" is approved, the Peach Bottom Township plant would be permitted to produce 12.5 percent more power, said Neil Sheehan, NRC spokesman.
Currently, the atomic station's two operational reactors produce just over 1,000 megawatts each. A thousand megawatts is enough power to provide electricity to a million homes annually, Sheehan said.
"A 12.5 percent increase on top of that is significant," he said.
If the NRC approves the yet-to-be submitted proposal, Peach Bottom's reactors would be able to provide power to roughly 285,000 additional homes.
Process: Since June, Exelon and NRC officials have been meeting to discuss the plan. The latest meeting was held last week at NRC headquarters in Maryland; another meeting is planned for July.
"The extended power uprate project represents Exelon's continued commitment to investments that increase our value to the local community," said Lacey Dean, spokeswoman for the plant.
Exelon is planning to submit its proposal in September, at which point the NRC will review it.
The review process could take a couple of years to complete, Sheehan said.
Federal officials will look at a number of things, including what modifications will have to be made to the plant, how increased power output could increase vibrations and affect piping, and how additional spent nuclear fuel will be stored and disposed of, Sheehan said.
Of the 104 operational nuclear reactors in the United States, 20 have been approved for uprates in the past, Sheehan said.
Upgrades: Additional power could be generated by using slightly more enriched uranium pellets, Sheehan said.
During the latest meeting with NRC officials, Exelon representatives indicated the steam dryers in both reactors would be replaced as part of the uprate, he said.
Dean said the exact costs of those and other upgrades have not yet been hashed out.
"Although the exact financial investment is yet to be determined, the project represents an innovative way to bring safe, clean and reliable power to even more local homes and businesses," she said.
About Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station
The first reactor, Unit 1, at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, located along the Susquehanna River in Peach Bottom Township, went online in 1967.
It was an experimental high-temperature helium-cooled and graphite-moderated reactor. It was in operation until 1974 and provided technical and cost data to utility companies.
Units 2 and 3 began commercial operations that year.
Both of those reactors are capable of generating 1,140 megawatts of electricity.
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