Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.'s long-standing problems with its Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant may be drawing to a close.
At BG&E's annual meeting today, shareholders were told that the second reactor of the two-reactor nuclear plant would return to service by the end of next week.
"I know that you shareholders welcome that as good news, and believe me, the dedicated men and women at Calvert Cliffs do too," said Christian H. Poindexter, BG&E vice chairman.
The Calvert Cliffs plant in Southern Maryland normally provides half of BG&E's power. But it has been totally or partially out of service since May 1989 as the result of equipment repairs and government-mandated safety improvements.
The long outage has pushed up electric rates as BG&E has had to buy expensive replacement power.
BG&E had hoped to bring Unit 2 back on line earlier this week, but a problem with valves was discovered in the start-up process, Poindexter said. After these problems are fixed, the reactor should be running by the end of next week, he said.
Poindexter said the utility's goal in the next 5 years is to have Calvert Cliffs in operation more than the industry average and provide electricity at a lower cost than the average.
Defending the long shutdown of Calvert Cliffs, Poindexter compared it to the revamping of the U.S. space shuttle program after the Challenger disaster.
"In a like manner, we had to satisfy our exacting requirements before we could restart the units," he told the stockholders.
Poindexter also reaffirmed BG&E's faith in nuclear power. "I can promise you that we are deeply involved in the national effort to preserve the nuclear option," he said. "Very simply we believe in the business."