The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors voted unanimously to shut down the 482-MW Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant by the end of 2016. The Board also decided to use the SAFSTOR method for decommissioning the plant.
The cost to decommission Fort Calhoun is approximately $1.2 billion. As of the end of May 2016, OPPD has approximately $388 million in available decommissioning funds, and expects to have full funding for a 2033 decommissioning date. OPPD said it does not expect a rate increase for five years, and will fund the decommissioning fund each year in order to close down before 2033.
“We will move forward through the decommissioning process in a responsible and thoughtful manner,” said OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke. “The decommissioning process will take several years and you have our commitment that the safety of the community and our employees is, and always will be, our top priority.”
The board said it was not fiscally able to continue operating Fort Calhoun, considered the smallest operating nuclear plant in North America. According to modeling conducted by Pace Global, closing down the plant would save the district between $735 million and $994 million over the next 20 years. Many factors play a part in the shut down, including unfavorable market conditions due to historically low gas prices; consumers using less energy; economies of scale; the Clean Power Plan and increasing regulatory and operational costs.
Fort Calhoun began operations in 1973. It shut down in 2011 for a scheduled refueling outage, but flooding from the nearby Missouri River kept the plant closed. A small fire and safety violations violations led to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission increasing oversight of the plant. OPPD brought Exelon Generation on board to help restart the plant, which it did in 2013.
Fort Calhoun is the 12th reactor to close or announce premature closure recently.
“Leaders in state capitals and Washington must bring together policies that appropriately value all attributes of electricity generation which if done correctly will preserve nuclear energy facilities as part of a diversified electricity portfolio,” said Marvin Fertel, President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. “To do otherwise will result in significantly negative economic and environmental consequences for decades.”
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