News Release
February 10, 2004

DUKE POWER NUCLEAR STATIONS ACHIEVE MILESTONES IN 2003

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Power’s McGuire and Oconee nuclear stations achieved major milestones in 2003.

McGuire, located in Huntersville, N.C., had one of its finest years ever, setting station records for production, reliability and cost efficiency.

Oconee, located in Seneca, S.C., became the first nuclear station in the country to generate 500 million megawatt-hours of electricity.

To put that accomplishment into perspective, Oconee has generated enough power to supply electricity to every house in South Carolina for more than 20 years*. The average home uses approximately one megawatt-hour of electricity each month, or 12 megawatt-hours per year.

McGuire, a two-unit station on the shores of Lake Norman, generated 18.9 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, beating its old record of 18.7 million megawatt-hours set in 1998.

The new production mark was made possible for several reasons:

  • Units 1 and 2 operated simultaneously for a company record 329 consecutive days (from Oct. 11, 2002 to Sept. 5, 2003, when unit 2 was taken off line for its regular maintenance and refueling outage). The previous company dual-unit record also was held by McGuire, 253 days in 1998-1999. Oconee, a three-unit plant, saw all three of its units operate simultaneously for almost 179 days in 2000, believed to be a national record.
  • McGuire unit 1 has been on line for more than 480 days and is on target to become the first Duke Power-operated nuclear generator to surpass the 500-day mark before coming off line this spring for refueling and maintenance. The current company record of 485 days was set by Oconee in 1999-2001.
  • McGuire unit 2 conducted its shortest refueling outage in its history, 30.61 days, this past fall.

All of these accomplishments resulted in McGuire attaining the highest capacity factor in its history – 98.28 percent, eclipsing its old mark of 97.26 percent set in 1998.

The station’s performance in 2003 is not unusual. Over the three-year period through 2003, McGuire maintained the highest capacity factor, 96.02 percent, of any Duke Power-operated nuclear station.

Capacity factor is the measure of how much electricity is produced, compared with the amount of electricity a unit is capable of producing, within a given time period.

A high nuclear capacity factor is beneficial to customers because it means more electricity is being provided by nuclear generation, which has low fuel costs. This means stable electric rates. Duke Power customers are paying basically the same rate for electricity as in 1986.

"The achievements in 2003 are a result of our nuclear team's hard work over the past few years to improve our processes and equipment performance. Our focus remains on sustained, long-term excellence in nuclear operation," says William R. McCollum Jr., senior vice president of nuclear support.

Also in 2003, both McGuire and Catawba Nuclear Station, which is operated by Duke Power in York, S.C., received renewed operating licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This means both stations are licensed to operate into the 2040s.

Oconee, which in 2000 became just the second nuclear station in the country to obtain a renewed license, is in the midst of a massive refurbishment project. Unit 1 replaced both its reactor vessel head and steam generators last fall. Unit 2 will undergo the same renovation this spring.

Meanwhile, unit 2 set new unit records for generation and capacity factor in 2003. Unit 2 generated 7.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year, surpassing its old mark of 7.5 million megawatt-hours in 2000. The unit’s capacity factor was 102.13 percent, outdistancing 2000’s record of 100.92 percent.

Duke Power, a business unit of Duke Energy, is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities and provides safe, reliable, competitively priced electricity and value-added products and services to more than 2 million customers in North Carolina and South Carolina. In 2004, Duke Power celebrates 100 years of service. The company operates three nuclear generating stations, eight coal-fired stations, 31 hydroelectric stations and numerous combustion turbine units. Total system generating capability is approximately 19,900 megawatts. More information about Duke Power is available on the Internet at: www.dukepower.com.

Duke Energy is a diversified energy company with a portfolio of natural gas and electric businesses, both regulated and unregulated, and an affiliated real estate company. Duke Energy supplies, delivers and processes energy for customers in North America and selected international markets. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at: www.duke-energy.com.

*According to the 2000 U.S.census, there are 1,753,670 homes in South Carolina. The average home uses one megawatt-hour of electricity per month or 12 megawatt-hours per year. This means it takes 21,044,040 megawatt-hours per year to serve all the homes in South Carolina. Dividing this by 500 million megawatt-hours equals 23.76 years.  

Contact: Rose Cummings
Phone: 704/382-6681
24-Hour Phone: 704/382-8333
e-mail: rbcummin@duke-energy.com