Drought, lake level no concern for Clinton nuke plant

CLINTON — The hot and dry conditions this summer haven't caused any problems at the Clinton nuclear generating station in nearby DeWitt County.

The plant operated at a 100 percent capacity factor in June, said Bill Harris, communications manager at the nuclear plant, and "we're running that in July too."

And although the water level at Clinton Lake has dropped about a foot and a half since June 1, it hasn't affected the plant's operation.

Clinton Lake provides cooling water for the 1,067-megwatt plant located about 35 miles west of Champaign.

"The lake is lower, but it's always lower at this time of year," Harris said. "And it's well within our predictions. Given the predictions we see so far we don't anticipate (having to reduce power generation) this year.

"This lake is pretty high. It was well engineered."

But the water temperature has risen significantly since June 1, according to a U.S. Geological Survey monitor. The temperature was about 70 degrees on June 1 and rose as high as 87 degrees during days in mid-July. As of yesterday afternoon it was 84 degrees.

The plant, originally owned by Illinois Power Co. and now owned by Exelon, began operation in 1987. It provides electricity throughout the Midwest.

"Clinton historically during the summer months has been Number 1 or Number 2 among Exelon plants," said Harris. "And the Exelon plants are among the highest rated in the industry. So we're kind of big dogs in that measure."

According to the Illinois State Water Survey, the July heat already has resulted in 470 cooling degree days, through Thursday, in Champaign-Urbana. Normal for the entire month of July is 309.

The mean temperature so far this month is 10.8 degrees above normal.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business
Topics (1):Technology
Location (3):Local, Clinton, DeWitt County

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