(PPL) PPL Corporation Ensures Nuclear Safety

PPL Corporation (PPL) said that Unit 2 of the Susquehanna nuclear plant near Berwick, Pennsylvania resumed generation after routine maintenance outages. The outage period was extended as the company had to change some damaged turbine blades discovered during an inspection.

In the course of the outage the company installed an integrated digital control system for plant equipment and replaced the damaged turbine blades that power the pumps, which in turn provides water to the reactor. The new equipment and the turbine are likely to increase the generation capacity of the unit.

The Unit 1 of the nuclear plant was shut down on May 16 for routine maintenance and resumed generation on June 24. After locating cracks in Unit 2, the officials had shut down Unit 1 to inspect its main turbine. Upon inspection similar cracks were located and the damaged turbine blades were also replaced.

The total after-tax financial impact for the turbine blade inspection, repair & replacement cost and energy-sales margins for both units is expected to be in the range of $50 million to $60 million.

Nuclear generation accounted for 29% of the total generation of the company in 2010. The company operates both the units at the Susquehanna nuclear plant pursuant to Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s operating licenses that expire in 2042 for Unit 1 and in 2044 for Unit 2.

Although every nuclear power generator was alert, with the mishap in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan fresh in the memory, all nuclear power generators seem to have started to take that extra care for maintenance and safety of its nuclear generation fleet.

Similarly, in June 2011, PPL Corporation’s peer FirstEnergy Corporation (FE) decided to accelerate the replacement of a reactor head at its Davis-Besse nuclear power station in Oak Harbor to ensure safety and reliability of operations.

PPL Corporation reiterated its earnings per share guidance of $2.50–$2.75 for 2011, which takes into consideration the strong first quarter results and its financial forecast for the year. The Zacks Consensus Estimates for second-quarter 2011, fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 are, respectively, 45 cents per share, $2.60 per share and $2.45 per share.

PPL Corp. retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating). We also maintain a long-term Neutral rating on the stock.

Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, PPL Corp. generates and delivers electricity and natural gas to nearly 10 million consumers in the United States and United Kingdom.

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