Most people are familiar with the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It conveys a feeling that if something is working OK, it should be left alone.
But at Exelon's Generation's nuclear facilities, waiting for something to break in order to fix it is not an option. Equipment reliability is a key imperative in nuclear power, and there is preventive maintenance taking place non-stop to ensure the plant generates power on a nearly 24 x 7 basis and in all kinds of inclement weather.
The new Byron main power transformer and rail car on which it was delivered weigh more than 1 million pounds combined.
That's why the appearance April 13 of a four-car freight train through Western Illinois to Byron Generating Station was so important. On board was a new multi-million-dollar main power transformer for the facility's Unit 2 reactor. The delivery was the first of two transformer deliveries to the site this spring and summer. The installation of the two transformers next spring emphasizes Exelon's commitment to safe and continuous operation.
"Replacing our facility's main power transformers is part of our long-term asset management," said Steve Nosko, Byron Station project manager. "Combining a good preventive maintenance project along with the replacement of certain components at the right time means we'll continue to generate carbon-free electricity with greater efficiency."
Exelon has replaced most transformers across its 23-reactor fleet due to their age. Byron replaced the two main power transformers on Unit 1 during a maintenance and refueling outage in 2017. The Unit 2 transformers will be replaced during a spring 2019 outage.
Nuclear power plants run more often any other major source of electricity because of their tremendous focus on equipment. In 2017, nuclear plants nationwide held a collective 93% capacity factor – a great indication of reliable operations. Exelon plants on their own went a step higher with a collective 94% capacity factor.
Did you know: 90% of Illinois' carbon-free electricity is generated by Exelon's six nuclear plants: Byron, Braidwood, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad Cities.