Blog post by Mark Reddemann, CEO
Today, Columbia Generating Station begins its biennial refueling and maintenance outage. We do so after operating the plant for 683 consecutive days, which is a record for Columbia. During that stretch, Columbia sent nearly 18 million megawatt hours of electricity to the Northwest power grid. Our capacity factor was greater than 98 percent.
More importantly, we’ve achieved these generation numbers safely. Looking at our industrial safety record, employees and contractors have now worked more than 950 days without a lost-time accident, equivalent to nearly 10 million hours worked.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of the Energy Northwest team for those accomplishments. When I first came to Energy Northwest in 2010, I made a commitment to the organization and the region that performance excellence would be the goal, and we would work hard every day to meet that goal. More importantly, we would be able to sustain that goal over the long term.
Columbia Generating Station has never run better in its 30 year history. The key to that success is our people. Our Maintenance department, Operations, our engineers and many, many others who work hard every day to help the organization achieve and sustain excellence. It has truly been a team effort.
Excellence is a word we use a lot
Energy Northwest employees implemented the Excellence in Performance initiative agency wide in July 2011 in direct response to Columbia Generating Station’s poor performance compared to the nuclear industry. The goal was (and is) to reach and sustain nuclear industry first-quartile plant performance within five years, and top performance, compared to energy industry peers, at our other generation projects.
Excellence in Performance is the relentless pursuit of the highest performance expectations through continuous improvement, zero tolerance for deviation from standards, and dedication to fostering an environment of teamwork. The initiative uses the Excellence Model, with supporting information and decision-making tools, to improve accountability at the individual, department and division levels.
The model is built upon the premise that behaviors plus results equal organizational performance. Originally developed by the Nuclear Management Company and adapted to Energy Northwest, the model is proven in the nuclear industry as effective in changing and sustaining workforce behaviors.
As a result of the Excellence in Performance initiative, Columbia broke its third consecutive annual generation record in 2014, generating nearly 9.5 million MWhrs.
We are equally focused on providing value to Northwest ratepayers. We’ve worked hard to increase Columbia’s generation, which has had a large impact in reducing costs. In parallel, we’ve also kept our capital costs in-line with our long-range plan. Our production costs, which includes operation and maintenance, and fuel costs, have decreased since fiscal 2009, on average, by $3.49 per megawatt each year, or 4.4 percent annually. (In fiscal 16 dollars, so we’ve adjusted for inflation).
With the combination of Columbia’s cost-of-power reductions and regional debt cooperation initiatives with Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Northwest will contribute more than $1.3 billion in total BPA rate case savings between 2012 and 2021.
The road ahead
Now – we are focused on successfully completing the refueling and maintenance outage. There are some major projects, important ones, that will improve our equipment reliability and our generation output when we are back up and running in June. As with our day-to-day operation, the key to outage success will be safety, and then predictably meeting our schedule.
As the third largest generation resource in the state of Washington, Columbia is a key part of the state (and regional) generation mix. Not only do we provide carbon-free, cost-effective electricity, but we deliver fuel diversity to an energy mix dominated by hydroelectric power.
We are looking forward to continuing to serve Northwest ratepayers with clean, reliable, cost-effective power. That is our commitment.