Spain's 500 MW Garona nuclear plant back on line

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MADRID, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Spain's 500-megawatt Garona nuclear power station was reconnected to the grid early on Tuesday after an unscheduled halt on Monday, a spokesman said.

"We were reconnected at 2:15 a.m. (0015 GMT), have stepped up power gradually and are now at 99 percent of capacity, or 467 MW," the spokesman said from the plant, which is near the northern city of Burgos.

Garona is run by Nuclenor, which is jointly owned by Spain's two biggest utilities, Iberdrola (IBE.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) and Endesa.

Now that Garona is back on line, six of Spain's eight nuclear power stations are working normally, according to the Nuclear Safety Council's (CSN) website.

The 1,000 MW Vandellos II plant has been off line since one of its generators caught fire on Sunday and operators say investigating the causes could take several weeks.

Meanwhile, the 1,000 MW Almaraz I plant was working at 70 percent to allow the scheduled replacement of part of a pump, and was not due to be back to capacity until next week.

Data from national grid operator REE showed that by 1140 GMT Spain's nuclear power stations were providing 5,958 MW, or 15.4 percent of capacity.

That compares with about 7,300 MW when all plants are working normally.

Lack of nuclear power tends to push up the wholesale price of electricity for prompt delivery.

The day-ahead pool price for Spain, which is fixed daily by the Omel exchange and acts as a benchmark for the secondary power market, was set at 74.66 euros ($109.8) per megawatt on Tuesday, up from a prior rate of 73.77 euros/MWh.
(Additional reporting by Judy MacInnes) (Reporting by Martin Roberts; editing by Simon Jessop)

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