KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. — As Winter Storm Grayson pounded the East Coast with high winds, bone-chilling temperatures and historic power demands, Exelon Generation’s Pennsylvania nuclear plants continued to deliver clean, reliable and affordable electricity to more than five million homes and businesses. Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Limerick Generating Station and Three Mile Island Unit 1 provided critical grid reliability during two of the highest daily peak demand periods ever recorded in the region.
Similar to the 2014 Polar Vortex, an extended cold snap that pushed the PJM grid to the limit, Winter Storm Grayson caused massive spikes in electricity demand. Exelon’s nuclear plants once again demonstrated their ability to generate an abundant supply of electricity when it’s needed most. Nuclear facilities are not susceptible to fuel supply challenges, a common cause for plant shutdowns during extreme weather events. Unlike, other forms of electricity production, nuclear plants have 18- to 24-months’ worth of fuel in the reactor and don’t rely on pipelines or railroads to keep running. This makes Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants critical to ensuring the resilience of the electric grid.
“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.”
According to PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, the storm generated the region’s highest winter electricity demand since 2014, resulting in two of PJM’s all-time top 10 winter peak demands: 136,125 megawatts on Jan. 3 and 136,206 on Jan. 5.
Winter resiliency and reliability requires year-long planning, preparation and maintenance. Exelon Generation workers spend months ensuring that backup generators and spare equipment are 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.