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.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Checking the Status: Finding the Power Levels”

  1. Clean nuclear power plant workers makes sense. Dirty nuclear energy does not. Too soon? Maybe it is the glorious leaderz that should inhale?

  2. The NRC’s Glossary is available online: .

    In the nuclear power world, “scram” means the chain reaction in the core has been automatically ended. The agency’s fact sheets and brochures can also offer details on some of the topics covered in event notification reports. The difference between “hot shutdown” and “cold shutdown” is simply the temperature of the water flowing through a core where no chain reaction is underway – a plant in “hot shutdown” is closer to being able to run normally. If an event could affect the public near a plant, both the NRC and the utility running the plant would keep people informed through the media.

    Diane Screnci

  3. Do you have anywhere on your site a key code or glossary for instance what is “scram” I see this one alot does it mean run ? What is the difference of a planed shut down and a hot shut down and so on. How many days does a hot shut down take to complete ? If the hot shut down procedure don’t work does it start the melt down procedure? Saw one 2 weeks ago and another today on the incident reports is a hot shut down pretty common then ? Some of the Jargon on the incident reports might be better understood if defined. And where do we find real time updates ?The incident reporting people take the weekends off and accidents can happen anytime right?

  4. Always we are really looking for such report. Thanks for this article. But I want to know more about the other resources like: Solar, Bio-gas energy plant etc.

  5. Would you be interested in the same information relative to each of the coal plants? Or is that irrelevant in your worldview? Besides, if you’re really up on this process, you already know that the nukes are required by law to submit annual radioactive effluents reports.

  6. As a Public Affairs Officer I think you’d agree that clear concise information is important. Is what you refer to as the “plant status report” actually the same thing called the “Power Reactor Status Reports” page on your web site? It also might be useful to inexperienced users of your “not user friendly” web site navigation system to tell them how to find it, i.e. from the home page click on the “Event Reports” box on the right sidebar menu, then on the “Reports Associated with Events” page, select on the “Power Reactor Status Report” line, either current or archive. This will make it a lot easier for interested parties to “give it a look at.”. mjd

  7. These reports should also include any radioactive releases including the data about exactly what was released and the quantity released…

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