Checking the Status: Finding the Power Levels

Diane Screnci
Senior Public Affairs Officer, Region I

One of the most frequently accessed pages on the NRC website is the plant status report. Inquiring minds, apparently, are very interested each morning on checking the power level of each of the nation’s 100 operating nuclear reactors.

fouramThe plant status report is ‘born” each morning around 4 a.m. The NRC’s Headquarters Operations Officers call each control room for a few reasons, including checking the phone line to the control room and gathering the current power level at each operating reactor. Plants are licensed with a limit on how much heat their cores can generate, and the report lists reactor power as a percentage of that limit.

The information about power level is then compiled into a report that’s posted on our website by about 7 each morning. The information is not a real-time update, it’s a 4 a.m. snap shot of the unit’s operating status. If a reactor shuts down mid-morning, or returns to full power in the evening, it’s not reflected in a plant status report until the following day.

Plant status reports are issued every day, including weekends and holidays. Plants come off the list once the company has decided to permanently shut down and has notified the agency that the fuel has been permanently removed from the reactor vessel.

The reports are also archived. After about a month, additional information is added to the report. A “comments” column includes additional information, such as important equipment that had been out of service or why a plant was operating at reduced capacity. The “change in report” column indicates plant status that had changed over the past 24 hours; and the “number of scrams” shows the number of unexpected reactor shutdowns over the past 24 hours.

nuclearpowerA variety of folks use the reports, including reporters and members of the public who check to see whether anything changed at the nuclear plant they cover or live near. Many of the calls the agency receives in the early morning stem from the plant status reports.

If you’ve never checked out the report, give it a look at. It’s interesting information.

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