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Columbia nuclear plant sets generation record


From the February 1, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 1, 2013

The Pacific Northwest’s only nuclear energy plant transmitted more megawatts to the regional power grid last year than during any prior year of its 28-year history, Energy Northwest said.

The Columbia Generating Station throughout 2012 sent more than 9.34 million megawatt-hours of electricity to the regional electric grid, Energy Northwest said. 

The increased supply of energy is a result of both run time – continuous except for a planned 10-day maintenance outage in May – and efficiencies gained during recent years, the utility said. Columbia has remained on line for more than three years without any unplanned shutdowns. 

Today, the plant generates approximately 1,170 megawatts per hour -- enough electricity to power Seattle -- and annually accounts for nearly 10 percent of the electricity generated in Washington, Energy Northwest said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed the plant’s operating license in May, extending it through 2043. 

"2012 was a year of records for us," said Energy Northwest CEO Mark Reddemann. "These achievements reflect a focus on both safety and quality of work." 

Last year marked the second consecutive year without an accident resulting in lost work time among the agency’s more than 1,100 employees; Columbia’s lowest number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration reportable accidents of any kind – three; and the agency’s longest time without an OSHA-reportable accident – 219 days, as of Jan. 19.

Energy Northwest said it also set a record at its Nine Canyon Wind Project. The 63-turbine project on the hills south of Kennewick, Wash., surpassed 2 million megawatt-hours of lifetime generation during 2012. 

Energy Northwest, a not-for-profit joint operating agency in Washington, develops, owns and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar and wind projects, as well as the region’s only nuclear power plant. Energy Northwest is made up of 27 public power member utilities from across the state.

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