As an arctic deep freeze gripped the Midwest and Winter Storm Grayson pounded the East Coast with high winds, bone-chilling temperatures, and historic power demands, Exelon Generation’s nuclear plants in Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania ran at nearly full capacity to deliver clean, reliable and affordable electricity to more than 20 million homes and businesses.
Similar to the Polar Vortex, Winter Storm Grayson caused massive spikes in electricity demand. According to PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, the storm generated the region’s highest winter electricity demand since 2014, and resulted in two of PJM’s all-time top 10 winter peak demands: 136,125 megawatts on Jan. 3 and 136,206 on Jan. 5.
“Our performance this past week helps demonstrate nuclear power’s reliability and resiliency nationally,” said Chief Nuclear Officer Bryan Hanson. “Millions of people count on the electricity our nuclear facilities provide, in homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, so we prepare for winter all year long to meet our reliability commitments.”
All 14 Exelon Generation nuclear facilities operate more than 90 percent of the time, even though the reactors are taken offline for refueling outages every 18 to 24 months. With on-site fuel and 18- to 24-month operating cycles, Exelon Generation’s nuclear plants don’t face fuel availability or delivery problems in inclement weather.
Winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and spare equipment is ready for inclement weather. This fall, operators and maintenance personnel inspected freeze protection systems, tested electrical equipment, and properly aligned plant systems to prepare all Exelon Generation facilities for sub-zero temperatures, icy conditions and heavy snowfall. These efforts are in addition to the many equipment upgrades and “winter readiness” maintenance activities performed during refueling outages.