Monday, October 08, 2001

FirstEnergy to seek nuclear plant extension

The Associated Press

        OAK HARBOR, Ohio — FirstEnergy Corp. has notified federal regulators it intends to seek a 20-year extension of its license to operate the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in northwest Ohio.

        Davis-Besse's original 40-year license is due to expire April 22, 2017, but would be extended until 2037 if the utility's application — scheduled to be filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by December 2004 — is approved. The review takes about two years.

        Extensions are limited to 20 years and require proof of reliability, as well as a utility's detailed schedule for replacing equipment often enough to keep plants running safely. Davis-Besse is about 25 miles east of Toledo.

        The plant rebounded from its darkest hour — a 12-minute interruption of feedwater to steam generators on June 9, 1985 — to score high on most of its evaluations in the 1990s.

        On March 21, 1997, the regu latory commission's regional administrator lauded the plant as “one of the better, if not the best,” in his eight-state jurisdiction that includes 28 Midwestern nuclear plants.

        As an industry, nuclear generates about 100,000 megawatts of power, roughly a fifth of America's electricity. It has established a national goal of generating 50 percent more power — a daily output of 150,000 megawatts — within 20 years, mainly by improving efficiency at its plants.

        FirstEnergy is planning improvements that would increase Davis-Besse's power output by about 15 percent in five years, raising its 935-megawatt generating capacity by about 125 megawatts. That's enough to power 60,000 more homes.


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