| July 18
July 18 Several nuclear plants on the U.S. East
Coast shut down by early W ednesday and New York's Consolidated
Edison power company reduced the voltage in parts of
Manhattan as the obsessive heat wave stressed the region's power
Despite the shutdown of four giant nuclear reactors in New
York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and South Carolina, the power
systems delivered the juice needed by the regions' homes and
businesses to keep air conditioners humming on the projected
last day of a brutal heat wave.
Temperatures in New York City -- the biggest metropolitan
region in the United States -- hit 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33
Celsius) on Monday, 96 F on Tuesday, and were expected to reach
96 F again on Wednesday before thunderstorms Wednesday night
were likely to drive temperatures back to near-normal levels in
the 80s F on Thursday, according to AccuWeather.com.
In New York, Wednesday's voltage reduction was the second
for Con Edison during this week's heat wave, aimed at easing the
load on the grid to allow workers to fix heat-stressed equipment
in the affected neighborhoods.
Customers do not lose power in a voltage reduction, but
incandescent lights, for example, glow more dimly, hot water
heaters take longer to heat water and some motors run more
Con Edison, which sells power to 3.2 million customers in
the New York City area, said its system was working well despite
the reduction and only 92 customers were without power Wednesday
morning, which is low for a utility of its size at any time of
U.S. natural gas futures meanwhile jumped 8 percent to $3.02
per million British thermal units (mmBtu) due to the heat and
Although the heat makes it more difficult to use the warmer
river water to cool power plants and can stress power lines due
to high usage, the reactors did not necessarily shut due to the
Constellation Nuclear Energy Group's 630-megawatt Nine Mile
Point 1 nuclear reactor in New York automatically shut on
Tuesday due to high neutron flux -- meaning neutrons are not
equally spread around the reactor core. Power traders guessed it
could have been a faulty sensor and the unit could be back soon.
Constellation Nuclear is a venture between French power
company Electricite de France SA (EDF) and Chicago
power company Exelon Corp.
A unit at Exelon's Limerick nuclear plant in Pennsylvania
shut early Wednesday, according to power traders. Officials at
the company and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission could not
confirm the Limerick shutdown.
Constellation Nuclear 855-MW took the Unit 1 at the Calvert
Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland offline by early Wednesday due
to a small leak in an instrument line. The company said it had
already fixed the plant and was ramping up the unit.
North Carolina-based Duke Energy's 846-MW Unit 1 at
the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina also shut by early
Wednesday. Details about the Oconee shutdown were not
immediately available to comment.