Iowa’s only nuclear power plant is closed down, but spokeswoman Renee Nelson says it’s routine maintenance at the Duane Arnold Energy Center. She compares it to gassing up a car, and says during this kind of scheduled outage workers can get into areas of the plant they normally cannot. During the outage they’ll replace about a third of the fuel in the reactor and do “more than 1000” preventive-maintenance tasks, she says, putting in some new pumps and heaters, “Anything to improve the reliability of the site.” The nuclear plant at Palo just outside Cedar Rapids is 31 years old and she says it’s running well. In 2004 the plant set a record for its most productive generation period, running at over 96-percent efficiency over the last year. The progress of the work will determine how soon the plant comes back on-line, though this outage was scheduled for a time when energy use is relatively light. The plant is licensed to continue operating through the year 2014, though majority owner Alliant Energy and its smaller shareholders are offering to sell the plant to some new owner.
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