Safe, Efficient Refueling Outages Make River Bend Station an Industry Leader
Plant enjoys peak performance due to increased equipment reliability.
St. Francisville, La. – Every 18 to 24 months employees at Entergy Gulf States Louisiana’s River Bend Station gear up for a refueling outage.
During a refueling, a nuclear power plant is taken off line so that a portion of its spent fuel can be replaced. Maintenance and repairs are also important steps in helping keep the plant running efficiently and reliably.
As River Bend enters its fall outage, the station is touting a continuous run of more than 360 days. That is great news for customers who receive power from the plant. Nuclear units that consistently stay online help keep electricity costs lower and offset reliance on fossil fuels and natural gas by Entergy’s utility companies.
“The goal is to operate at 100 percent power from one refueling outage to the next,” Mark Feltner, shift outage manager at River Bend. “We’ve had long runs before, but we’re seeing more success now than we’ve seen in quite some time. This means that we’re doing the right maintenance at the right time – including during our outages.”
Practice makes perfect, and River Bend employees have much refueling experience to draw from for their success. This year’s refueling outage will be the plant’s 15th . In addition, the outage activities are well planned and expertly orchestrated.
“Every outage is preceded by two years’ worth of preparation,” Feltner said. “The focus over those two years is to refine what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it and to make sure it all fits into the philosophy of being safe, efficient and predictable.”
Refueling cycles typically occur in the spring and fall, when milder weather means reduced electricity demand on the grid. River Bend is capable of producing 967 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 483,500 homes. While the plant is off-line, customers will receive power from other Entergy generating units as well as power purchased from the market.
During the outage, the plant bustles around the clock with a workforce twice the size of normal operations.
With safety as the number-one priority for Entergy, attention to safe performance intensifies during refueling outages. All employees and contractors are required to complete safety training before work begins, and supervisors closely monitor employees and reinforce safety.
“We have a great safety team, and they’re heavily involved in all aspects of the outage,” Feltner said. “Everyone has an understanding of the job they’re going to do and how to minimize safety risks.”
Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $13 billion and approximately 14,700 employees.
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