If the roadways near Pottstown in western Montgomery County seem a little more congested this week, there's a reason: Exelon's Limerick Unit 2 reactor began its biennial refueling outage late Sunday, a month-long event requiring the influx of about 2,000 workers.

During the refueling outage, workers will replace one-third of the nuclear reactor's uranium fuel core and also conduct more than 16,000 inspections, maintenance activities and other tasks, Exelon said. The Tri County Area Chamber of Commerce says the event causes crowding at local restaurants and hotels.

Each of Limerick's two units is refueled every two years. Refueling outages are typically scheduled between summer and winter, when the electricity grid is less likely to be affected by seasonal peaks in demand for heating or cooling.

The two Limerick units produce more than 2,300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 2 million homes.

The refueling outage occurs while Limerick's parent company, Exelon, is setting the stage in Pennsylvania to promote price supports similar to the ones approved in Illinois and New York state that prevented Exelon reactors there from closing. Opponents in those states have denounced the actions as nuclear “bailouts” that will boost electric rates.