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Nashua;47.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-10-20 23:39:45
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heat wave may shut Mass. nuclear power plant - the ocean's too warm to cool it down

At a time when New England electricity usage is near record highs, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Mass., may have to shut because the water in Cape Cod Bay is too warm to effectively cool the plant, reports the Boston Globe.

The water must be below 75 degrees F., and the Globe story points out an effect of global warming:

When the limits were put into place, regulators never imagined that rising water temperatures would be a concern, Sheehan said. “No one could envision a scenario where water temperatures would exceed these limits,” Sheehan said.

Pilgrim having to shut down during very high electricity usage was the scenario that brought New England to the brink of rolling brownouts back in January (as I and others reported). However, the real problem then was a squeeze in natural gas deliveries to gas-fired power plants. That's unlikely to be a problem in summer, because natural gas isn't being used to heat homes and there's less pressure on supplies.