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Columbia Generating Station has $3.6B in Debt

by Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times
Tri-City Herald, July 14, 2011

Whether the Columbia Generating Station has been a good deal for Washington power consumers depends on how you slice and dice the numbers, said Jim Lazar, an Olympia-based economist who specializes in power issues.

"If you look back at what the power from this plant has cost in total, it's clearly not a good deal," Lazar said. "But if you ask, 'Does it make sense to keep running it today?' The answer is 'yes.' "

With interest, the outstanding debt on the plant is $3.6 billion.

When those payments are factored in along with depreciation, waste disposal, administrative expenses and all other costs reported annually by Energy Northwest, Lazar calculates power from the nuclear plant averages about 6.5 cents per kilowatt -hour (kwh) -- more expensive than hydropower, coal and natural gas.

Looking only at operating and maintenance costs, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) puts the price at 3.6 cents per kwh. Hydropower costs about 2.8 cents per kwh.

BPA has had to boost rates -- including a proposed 8 percent increase for 2012-13 -- to pay for upgrades at the nuclear-power plant. According to a 2009 BPA analysis, it costs more to maintain and operate the Columbia Generating Station than all 31 of the hydropower plants in the Columbia Basin combined.

But the plant provides about 10 percent of BPA's electricity, which would have to be replaced if it were shut down.

Leaving out money already spent, "if the plant can be run safely and reliably into the future," Lazar said, "then it's a good deal."

Reuters Factbox: U.S. nuclear reactors similar to Fukushima

July 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. nuclear industry's top cop is to weigh major changes in how it regulates the country's 104 reactors after Japan's Fukushima disaster, a move that will help shape the future of the power source and could lead to significant cost increases.

A task force recommended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission look at a fundamental shift in how it plans for catastrophes like the earthquake and tsunami that swamped the Fukushima plant in March, the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Now it is up to the five-member commission to decide which ideas to accept and how quickly to proceed in an industry where plant retrofits can run into the millions.

The NRC task force recommended requiring reliable hardened vent designs in boiling water reactors with the General Electric (GE.N) designed Mark I and Mark II containment types, the same as the damaged Fukushima reactors.

In the United States, 31 of the 104 operating reactors have the Mark I or Mark II containment type. The following lists those reactors, according to data from the NRC:

Reactor            Location            Size (MW)     Year    Design

Columbia           Richland, WA          1190        1984    Mark II

Browns Ferry 1     Decatur, AL           1065        1974    Mark I
Browns Ferry 2     Decatur, AL           1104        1975    Mark I
Browns Ferry 3     Decatur, AL           1105        1977    Mark I
Brunswick 1        Southport, NC          938        1977    Mark I
Brunswick 2        Southport, NC          920        1975    Mark I

Cooper             Nebraska City, NE      770        1974    Mark I
Dresden 2          Morris, IL             867        1970    Mark I
Dresden 3          Morris, IL             867        1971    Mark I
LaSalle 1          Marseilles, IL        1118        1982    Mark II
LaSalle 2          Marseilles, IL        1120        1983    Mark II
Limerick 1         Limerick, PA          1134        1985    Mark II
Limerick 2         Limerick, PA          1134        1989    Mark II
Oyster Creek       Toms River, NJ         615        1969    Mark I
Peach Bottom 2     Lancaster, PA         1112        1974    Mark I
Peach Bottom 3     Lancaster, PA         1112        1974    Mark I
Quad Cities 1      Moline, IL             867        1972    Mark I
Quad Cities 2      Moline, IL             867        1972    Mark I

Duane Arnold       Cedar Rapids, IA       580        1975    Mark I
Hatch 1            Baxley, GA             876        1975    Mark I
Hatch 2            Baxley, GA             883        1979    Mark I

Fermi 2            Monroe, MI            1122        1988    Mark I

Hope Creek         Hancock's Brdg, NJ    1161        1986    Mark I

Fitzpatrick        Oswego, NY             854        1976    Mark I
Pilgrim            Plymouth, MA           685        1972    Mark I
Vermont Yankee     Vernon, VT             620        1972    Mark I

Monticello         Monticello, MN         572        1971    Mark I

Nine Mile Point 1  Oswego, NY             621        1969    Mark I
Nine Mile Point 2  Oswego, NY            1140        1987    Mark II

Susquehanna 1      Salem, PA             1149        1982    Mark II
Susquehanna 2      Salem, PA             1140        1984    Mark II
(Reuters Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston, Roberta Rampton in Washington and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times
Columbia Generating Station has $3.6B in Debt
Tri-City Herald, July 14, 2011

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