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Luminant’s Comanche Peak-2 reactor in Texas due to return ‘late next week’

The 1,124-MW Comanche Peak-2 nuclear reactor is due to come back online late next week after shutting down June 5 due to problems with a steam turbine, Vistra Energy said Friday.

During an earnings call with analysts, Vistra executives said repairs and replacement of equipment unrelated to the reactor side of the facility had largely been completed.

Comanche Peak, one of two nuclear facilities in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint, is operated by Vistra’s Luminant subsidiary.

Increased generation from Vistra’s legacy coal fleet as well as generation from a recently acquired West Texas combined-cycle, gas-fired turbine facility in the Permian Basin, helped “offset” the the impact of the outage, said Curt Morgan, Vistra CEO.

Morgan said the cost of the outage could come to $75 million, some of which the company expects to recover from insurance.

In his second-quarter 2017 earnings comments, Morgan said the timing of the outage was “disappointing,” especially since it is the company’s first full year out of bankruptcy.

Vistra was formed in October 2016 after a bankruptcy court approved the spinoff of Luminant and Dallas-based electricity retailer TXU Energy to a group of private equity firms who were creditors of Energy Future Holdings.

The private equity firms hired Morgan, formerly of Energy Capital Partners, to run the newly named holding company.

Luminant has 17,814 MW of capacity, all located in the ERCOT footprint, with 8,017 MW of coal-fired capacity and a CCGT fleet that has grown to 4,042 MW in the past two years.

Morgan said the company is carrying out an ongoing operations performance review of its assets that, he said, has already led to $28 million in cost cuts that will enhance EBITDA.

By the end of 2017, the review will also have covered the company’s six coal-fired facilities. Morgan has previously noted the company could decide to retire some of its coal-fired capacity.

Excess capacity, along with low natural gas prices, have suppressed power prices in ERCOT. ERCOT’s reserve margin has been near 19%.

On Thursday, Mauricio Gutierrez, the CEO of NRG Energy, said he believes that with growing demand, newbuild delays and cancellations as well as plant retirements, ERCOT’s reserve margin could come down to 11.3% in 2018.

Read full article at Platts