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FirstEnergy works on Pennsylvania Beaver Valley reactor transformer

Jan 24 (Reuters) - FirstEnergy Corp said on Friday it is continuing work on the replacement of a transformer at the 892-megawatt Unit 1 at the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

The unit shut Jan. 6 due to a transformer failure.

A First Energy spokeswoman could not say when the unit would likely return to service but noted "the outage is expected to be shorter than a typical refueling outage, which is normally about 30 days." "We are well into the replacement process. This is a large component that requires some time to replace," said spokeswoman Jennifer Young.

A spokesman at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Neil Sheehan, said "Work is continuing on the installation and testing of the new transformer ... While the work may be taking slightly longer than anticipated, the delays would not be considered significant." Sheehan noted "This type of replacement schedule is in line with what we have seen at other plant sites." The NRC does not forecast when a reactor will return to service.

The NRC said FirstEnergy had two spare transformers at Beaver Valley (a new one and a refurbished one). The company decided to install the new, unused transformer, since the used one would have required additional refurbishment work.

Beaver Valley 2, meanwhile, was operating at full power Friday morning, according to an NRC report.

---------------------------------------------------------- PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE STATE: Pennsylvania TOWN: Shippingport in Beaver County, some 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Pittsburgh OPERATOR: FirstEnergy Nuclear OWNER(S): FirstEnergy CAPACITY: 1,777 MW UNIT(S): - Unit 1 - 892-MW Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR) - Unit 2 - 885-MW Westinghouse PWR FUEL: Nuclear DISPATCH: Baseload TIMELINE: 1976 - Unit 1 enters service 1987 - Unit 2 enters service 2007 - FirstEnergy filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the reactors' original 40-year operating licenses for another 20 years 2009 - NRC renews operating licenses 2036 - Unit 1 license expires 2047 - Unit 2 license expires