Out on the beach, surfers look beyond the breakers for the best waves to ride. The break in the wave is where the tide gives way to the shore, the waves ‘break’ and result in bubbly, unstable water. Your favorite surfer friends attempt to ride the crest of the wave for as long as possible before it ‘breaks.’
At your local power plant, breakers mark the boundaries of electric current, with the biggest breaker being the one that puts electricity out on the grid for our customers to use. Ideally, our wave of electricity only ‘breaks’ when we want it to. That is, we try to run our power plants non-stop between refueling cycles, up to two years straight. Imagine if there was only one wave breaking on the beach every two years and your favorite surfer could ride the crest of that wave for 700 days straight. That would be way cool. That is what we aim for.
A “breaker-to-breaker” run for a nuclear plant is one of the standards by which we measure ourselves. For example, at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant, located near the beaches of Oak Island, N.C., we refuel the reactor once every two years and strive to run the reactor at maximum capacity for that entire time period. That way you can surf the web using low-cost, reliable, clean energy.
And for the second time in the plant’s history, the Brunswick plant logged a "breaker-to-breaker" electricity generating cycle.
The Brunswick plant has just entered its spring outage -- when we take one of the reactors off the grid, shut it down and refuel it. It is kind of like taking your car in for its regular service, but on a grander scale. When we disconnected the reactor from the grid by opening the breaker, the reactor had run for 712 days straight. That is a breaker-to-breaker run -- the plant operated continuously without ever shutting down. The plant has had only one other “breaker-to-breaker” operating cycle, when it ran for 707 days straight. Can you imagine your car running for over 700 days without needing to stop for fuel, an oil change, a flat tire, for any reason at all? That is how reliable these plants are.
A “breaker-to-breaker” run is a good thing for a power plant and a great thing for our customers. It is just another way customers can know that the plant is being well maintained and operated efficiently for our rate-payers and shareholders.
Want to know more? Click here to read more about how Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet is setting new records.