Palo Verde Nuclear Station Sets U.S. Production Record

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station led the U.S. in electrical generation in 2014, as it has done for 23 consecutive years, with a total output of 32.3 million MWh. That bested its previous record set in 2012.

The Palo Verde plant is located about 45 miles west of Phoenix, Ariz. (Figure 5). It has three pressurized water reactors—Units 1 and 2 were completed in 1986, and Unit 3 was added in 1988. The combined capacity of the three units is over 4 GW, making the station the largest power generation facility in the U.S.

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5. Consistent giant. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has had the highest annual output of any U.S. plant for 23 consecutive years. Courtesy: Business Wire

Palo Verde is operated by Arizona Public Service (APS) and jointly owned by APS, Salt River Project, Southern California Edison Co., El Paso Electric Co., Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Southern California Public Power Authority, and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. About half of the plant’s output serves Arizona customers, with the remaining power spread among California, New Mexico, and far west Texas.

Because of its desert location, Palo Verde is the only nuclear plant in the U.S. that does not sit on a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated effluent from the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, and Tolleson to meet its cooling water needs, recycling approximately 20 billion gallons of wastewater each year. (For more on the Palo Verde Water Reclamation Facility, see “Water and Wastewater Treatment Technology Update” in the March 2015 issue of POWER.)

“The almost 3,000 employees who work at Palo Verde come to work every day with the same goal: to safely and efficiently generate clean energy for the Southwest, and do it for the long-term,” APS Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Randy Edington said in a press release. “We take pride in regularly generating more electricity than any other power plant in the country, ensuring that people across Arizona and the Southwest can continue to enjoy reliable, low-cost electricity.”

In 2014, all three units individually ranked among the top six producers in the U.S., with Unit 3 having the second-highest output of any nuclear unit in the world.

Aaron Larson, associate editor