RICHLAND, Wash. – Columbia Generating Station produced more clean, nuclear energy for the Northwest power grid during 2014 than any other year in its 30-year history. Columbia sent nearly 9.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid, beating the previous generation record set in 2012 (9.3 million MWhrs). Columbia also set a generation record for a refueling outage year in 2013 (8.4 million MWhrs).
“We are doing what Energy Northwest does best: providing reliable, clean, cost-effective electricity to the region’s ratepayers,” said Mark Reddemann, Energy
Northwest CEO. “During 2014, Columbia operated at a 98.6 percent capacity factor. That number directly reflects our team’s commitment to excellence in performance.”
Columbia was online every single day in 2014 and broke its record for consecutive days online in November, beating the previous record of 505 days set in April 2011. As of today, Columbia has been online for 560 consecutive days. The current run began when the plant restarted following Columbia’s 2013 refueling and maintenance outage, which ended June 25, 2013. Columbia’s next refueling outage is scheduled to begin May 9.
In November, Columbia also marked five years without an unplanned shut-down.
“Our stakeholders expect us to be safe, reliable and predictable. We can’t achieve generation records such as these, safely, unless the entire team has that focus,” said Brad Sawatzke, Energy Northwest chief operating officer/chief nuclear officer.
Columbia Generating Station is the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear energy facility, generating 1,170 megawatts of electricity, which is sold at-cost to the Bonneville Power Administration. Ninety-two Northwest utilities receive a percentage of its output.
In December, Columbia marked 30 years of commercial operation. Regional power organizations – and Washington Governor Jay Inslee – have praised Columbia for its economic and environmental value.
Most recently, the Bonneville Power Administration credited Energy Northwest with helping to keep the fiscal year 2016-2017 power rate increase in the single digits.
According to Bonneville, opportunities and initiatives presented by Energy Northwest will save ratepayers approximately $125 million during the upcoming rate period.
Those opportunities afforded by Energy Northwest, and its industry and regional partners, were the repeal of the spent-fuel disposal fee that the Energy Department charged Columbia Generating Station, saving the region on average $7.4 million a year; refinancing of regional cooperation debt for 2014-17, saving about $29 million a year; and a decrease in Columbia’s operating costs, saving approximately $26 million a year.
“We are providing benefits to the region both from our generation of electricity and from working closely with our partners on increasing value through these strategic financial transactions. We are seeing successes on both sides,” said Brent Ridge, Energy Northwest vice president of Corporate Services and chief financial and risk officer.
The agency’s 2012 low-cost, below-market nuclear fuel purchase – enough fuel to last through 2028 – generated tens of millions of dollars in current rate case savings, and will save tens of millions more through 2028.
(Posted by John Dobken)