The second week of July is a symbolic midpoint of the summer for many. It means June is over and the Independence Day holiday has passed, while the second half of July will soon give way to August and for many children, the thoughts of a return to school. Operators of nuclear power plants - like Exelon - also see the summer months as a very important time period. Ensuring our nuclear units safely run at an optimal level during the hot summer is an important part of nuclear plant operations.
In the month of June and first 10 days of July, Byron Station's capacity factor was at 99%. Capacity Factor is an important measurement of reliability – and Byron Station has answered the call with resounding success. Having units operate at nearly 100% every minute of the summer means no one will go without needed air conditioning as the sun beats down on homes and businesses.
Reliable summer operation of a nuclear plant does not come by accident. Employees begin working on the plant's summer readiness while there is still snow on the ground in winter. Teams plan for hot summer weather by performing pump and circuit breaker maintenance, cleaning various pieces of equipment inside and out, and performing hundreds of inspections and many other activities that ensure the nuclear units perform at an optimal level throughout the hot and humid summer weather, which for Exelon include June through September.
Safety is Job No. 1 at all of Exelon's work locations – and that safety mindset is heightened during the summer. Employees make sure they take care of themselves to guard against heat exhaustion. Employees are reminded of the importance to drink plenty of fluids, take regular breaks, and to keep an eye on one another. Many work activities are also curtailed or shifted according to weather.
Once the hot summer weather clears, many plants begin fall refueling and maintenance outages, while others begin their preparations for winter readiness plans. The cycle goes on as workers ensure a well-run nuclear facility provides electricity in all kinds of weather at any time of year.