Spain's 1,000 MW Vandellos II nuclear plant on line

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MADRID, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Spain's 1,000 megawatt Vandellos II nuclear plant was reconnected to the grid early on Tuesday morning after an absence of nearly two months, technicians said.

"We've been back on line since 4:26 (0226 GMT) and are stepping up power. We need to do tests before reaching full power," said a technician from the plant, which is near to the northeastern port of Tarragona.

Vandellos II had been off line since one of its generators caught fire on Aug. 24.

Spain's number-two utility Endesa has a 72-percent stake in the plant, while the biggest utility Iberdrola owns the other 28 percent.

The 500 MW Garona nuclear plant had meanwhile completed maintenance work which began at the weekend and was providing 70 percent of normal power, technicians said, after dropping to less than 50 percent.

Technicians were unavailable for comment at the 1,000 MW Cofrentes plant, which had cut output to 90 percent of capacity over the weekend to allow maintenance to go ahead.

Garona is jointly owned by Iberdrola and Endesa, while Endesa wholly owns Cofrentes. Greater availability of nuclear power tends to lower wholesale power prices for prompt delivery , as it reduces dependence on relatively expensive gas-fired generators.

Data from national grid operator REE showed that Spain's nuclear plants between them were supplying 6,270 MW, or 17.8 percent of demand for power, by 0800 GMT. That compares to about 7,300 MW when all eight are working normally.

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