April 28, 2011 - storms knock TVA nuclear plant offline

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The rash of tornadoes and powerful storms across the American midwest and south have knocked three nuclear reactors in Alabama offline.
This small dam maintains water levels in Haley Pond in the village of Rangeley, Maine.
I've previously noted the Tennessee Valley Authority's nuclear power program, and how stormy weather can impact generation and the electric grid.  Yesterday, a series of severe storms and tornadoes damaged eleven major transmission lines in the Southeast, cutting the power supply to TVA's Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama.  Browns Ferry is home to three reactors with a combined capacity of 3,274 megawatts.

The TVA is a congressionally-chartered federal corporation operating a variety of generation resources.  Most famous among these may be the TVA's 29 hydroelectric dams, although TVA also operates three nuclear power plants (totaling six reactors), as well as coal plants, natural gas combined-cycle plants, and some non-hydro renewable power.

The storms may have some electric upside: TVA is running 8 of its 9 dams on the Tennessee River at full production -- primarily to control flooding, but producing hydroelectricity at the same time.

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