Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station achieved its 20th consecutive year as the nation’s largest power producer.
The almost 31.3 million megawatt-hours produced in 2011 is the most ever generated by Palo Verde or by any other U.S. power plant of any kind.
According to industry data, Unit 3 produced more electricity than any other reactor in the U.S. in 2011 and was the second most productive in the world. Despite a scheduled refueling outage in the spring of 2011, Unit 2 was third most productive reactor in the U.S. and ranked 10th in the world. Unit 1, which had a scheduled refueling outage in the fall of 2011, ranked 14th in the U.S. and 30th in the world. Palo Verde’s three reactors are part of 104 operating units in the U.S. and 435 in the world.
“Our investment in equipment upgrades and our employees’ efforts to continually improve safety and overall plant performance has resulted in many successes,” said Randy Edington, Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer for Arizona Public Service Co., the operator and largest owner of Palo Verde. “We are proud of our accomplishments in enhancing plant operation and will continue to strive to improve our record. We will stay on our course to achieve our mission to ‘safely and efficiently generate electricity for the long term.’ ”
From 2002 to 2010, Palo Verde installed new steam generators, high-efficiency turbine rotors, new reactor vessel heads and rapid refueling machines in all three units. These large investments resulted in increased output by about 200 megawatts and reduced down time for refueling and maintenance.
Other 2011 accomplishments include:
- After a two-year in-depth technical audit, inspection and scrutiny of the plant’s operation, equipment and safety performance, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved extending the operating licenses for all three Palo Verde units an additional 20 years beyond the original 40-year licenses, allowing Unit 1 to operate through 2045, Unit 2 through 2046 and Unit 3 through 2047.
- Palo Verde set a record for lowest outage radiation exposure in the nuclear industry. Palo Verde’s Unit 1 refueling outage completed in November recorded the lowest ever 20.6 rem. Prior to 2011, the best refueling outage recorded for a U.S. commercial plant was 28.2 rem in 2006. The record low exposure included 106,424 man-hours accumulated by more than a thousand nuclear professionals who worked in the tightly controlled areas of the plant where radiological exposure is possible. Current industry median for station-best is 59 rem. Rem is an abbreviation for roentgen equivalent man, a measurement of ionizing radiation. One rem is equivalent to receiving one upper gastrointestinal (GI) computerized tomography (CT) scan.
- Palo Verde opened a new Energy Education Center in Buckeye. The new building includes state-of-the-art equipment needed to respond to an emergency and provide the public with the most complete, timely and accurate information. It also will be used for other business purposes including employee training, industry conferences, offsite meetings and community outreach activities. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the facility its second-highest rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, known as LEED.
Palo Verde is the largest nuclear power plant in the nation. Its three units can generate more than 4 million kilowatts of safe, clean, reliable, low-cost electricity every hour – enough to serve about 4 million people.
Palo Verde is operated by APS and jointly owned by APS, Salt River Project, Southern California Edison Co., El Paso Electric Co., Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Southern California Public Power Authority and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.