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Entergy to pitch expanded nuclear plant to NRC

PORT GIBSON — Entergy Mississippi will go before nuclear power regulators later this month to pitch its plans to expand the Grand Gulf plant near Port Gibson.

With approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the utility would increase the plant’s output from 1,265 megawatts to 1,443 megawatts — a 13 percent increase, Entergy officials said.

Entergy officials said after the upgrade, Grand Gulf will be able to produce enough electricity to power an additional 53,000 homes round the clock for the life of the plant.

The average home uses about 1,000 kilowatts a month, company spokeswoman Mara Hartmann said.

The upgrade is scheduled for Feb. 2012 during regular maintenance outages, pending federal approval. Entergy expects it will take at least a few weeks, but has no definitive timetable for the expansion.

“It’s a big endeavor for the station, because safety is our number one priority,” Randy Douet, the plant’s vice president, told The Clarion-Ledger’s editorial board. “We’re basically making what we have run at higher power.”

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has given its approval.

Entergy Mississippi president Haley Fisackerly says the NRC will receive documents including the plant’s design and various engineering data. Some new equipment will be needed, too.

The NRC is expected to take about 11 months to review the data.

Douet said he doesn’t expect any problems because the upgrades are standard for a growing nuclear facility.

If the federal agency finds some changes are needed, those can be incorporated into the plans before Feb. 2012, he said.

The planned updates in 2012 will add about 1,500 temporary jobs in construction, engineering and technical areas, company officials said.

Grand Gulf has operated since 1985. The upgrade’s cost would be split among the facility’s joint owners, which also include Entergy’s Arkansas, Louisiana and New Orleans subsidiaries.

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