Recent News

Aug. 27, 2021

Jim Connolly, STP Chief Nuclear Officer, Dies at 62 

Wadsworth, Texas – August 27, 2021– Jim Connolly, Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer of STP Nuclear Operating Company, died Thursday, Aug. 26, following a long illness. He was 62 years old.  

 

“Jim was a proven nuclear professional leader who’s dedication to life-long learning and continuous improvement made him a stand-out talent in our industry,” said Tim Powell, STP’s President and CEO. “STP was privileged to have him as a leader and he will be greatly missed.” 

 

Connolly had over 38 years of experience in the nuclear industry, serving in a wide variety of roles. He joined STP in 2014 as the General Manager of Engineering and served as the Site Vice President before taking the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer in 2018. 

 

Before joining STP, Connolly was Engineering Director at the Seabrook and St. Lucie nuclear plants for NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC and Florida Power and Light Company respectively. He has served a variety of positions, including Startup Test Engineer, Commissioning Engineer, Principal Licensing Engineer, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Licensing Manager, Fleet Licensing Manager and Engineering Director. 

 

Connolly was a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering. He also held a Juris Doctorate degree from the Massachusetts School of Law and was licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Connolly earned a Senior Reactor Operator Certification at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant. Additionally, Connolly was a graduate of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ Nuclear Plant Management course and the Senior Executive Leadership Seminar. He was a member of the NEI Nuclear Strategic Issues Advisory Committee (NSIAC), the CNO Sponsor for the NEI Regulatory Issues Working Group (RIWG), and a member of the INPO Executive Advisory Group (EAG) and the INPO Continuous Monitoring Advisory Group. 

 

He is survived by his wife Debbie, and their daughters Shannon Rech, Jillian Connolly, Ashley Connolly and Jessica Connolly.

  

Kym Harshaw, who previously served STP as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, was named Acting Chief Nuclear Officer on Aug. 16, when Connolly stepped away on leave. 

 

South Texas Project Electric Generating Station is located approximately 90 minutes southwest of Houston near Bay City, Texas. It is operated by STP Nuclear Operating Company and owned by NRG Energy, CPS Energy and Austin Energy.  

Mar. 20, 2021

STP Unit 2 scheduled refueling outage begins with COVID-19 protections in place

Wadsworth, Texas – March 20, 2021 – STP’s Unit 2 commenced its 21st scheduled refueling and maintenance outage on Saturday, March 20, following the completion of a safe 18-month operating cycle. Plant operators, maintenance and support personnel will be supplemented by several hundred industry craftsmen and specialists from across the country to refuel the reactor and to conduct necessary reliability maintenance for our next operating cycle.

“We are committed to putting safety first, both with our onsite activities and in the manner by which we staff our outages with the unique challenges that the COVID-19 virus presents to us,“ said Jim Connolly, STP’s Chief Nuclear Officer.

The station has enacted protective strategies to mitigate the potential for COVID-19 spread into our community and on our STP site. Multiple layers of protection have been adopted for the outage, including 100 percent testing of incoming contractors prior to working on-site, installation of plexiglass dividers in multiple work areas to promote social distancing and a health screening tent at the plant entrance to ensure all workers are pre-screened for temperature and other precursors known to indicate the presence of the COVID-19 virus. These protections have been added to the site’s existing and robust COVID-19 protective strategy, which includes requirements for health screening, masking and social distancing for all personnel.

“Our strategies have been developed in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance. They will remain in place throughout the refueling outage, and until the Public Health Emergency is declared to be behind us as per CDC notification,” said Connolly.  

This is STP’s 43rd refueling outage since beginning commercial operation in 1988. STP’s two units are on an 18-month refueling cycle.

During the Unit 2 outage, about one-third of the reactor’s fuel assemblies will be replaced with new ones. In addition, thousands of maintenance activities are scheduled to enhance equipment reliability and numerous plant systems and components will be tested and inspected.

“Significant planning and preparation has been completed to ensure that we thoroughly inspect, test and complete a large scope of work during this outage, and do it all while maintaining the safest possible environment to guard against transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” said Connolly. “This work will prepare Unit 2 to operate safely and reliably until its’ next scheduled refueling outage.”

STP schedules refueling outages in the spring and fall when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) electrical demand is lowest. The plant is managed by the STP Nuclear Operating Company and owned by NRG Energy, CPS Energy and Austin Energy.

Feb. 18, 2021

South Texas Project Unit 1 Returns to ERCOT Grid

Wadsworth, Texas – Feb. 18, 2021 – STP Unit 1 reconnected to the grid yesterday at 2107 and has

returned to its full capacity of approximately 1350MW.

On Monday, Feb. 15, at 0526, an automatic reactor trip occurred at South Texas Project in Unit 1 causing the unit to come offline. The cause of this unit trip originated from a cold weather induced failure of a feedwater pressure sensing line. STP Operators took immediate action to stabilize the unit and then to focus on promptly returning Unit 1 to the grid. Unit 2 remained online throughout this period and continues to support the Texas ERCOT grid along with Unit 1.

"STP recognizes the hardships our fellow Texans are experiencing due to the combination of cold weather and not having electricity and heat in their homes and businesses," said Jim Connolly, Chief Nuclear Officer for STP Nuclear Operating Company. 

“We have experienced an unprecedented cold weather event statewide which presented a challenge to our systems. We will conduct a full review of the causes of this loss of generation and apply appropriate preventive and corrective actions to continuously improve the reliability of our units.” said Connolly.

Oct. 9, 2019

STP Unit 2 completes breaker-to-breaker run, scheduled refueling outage begins

Wadsworth, Texas – October 9, 2019 - On Friday, Oct. 4, STP’s Unit 2 started a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, marking the completion of its fourth consecutive breaker-to-breaker operational run. STP’s two units combined to safely produce more than 20.7 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity in 2018.