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NPPD to seek power uprate at Cooper nuclear plant

From the December 18, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published December 18, 2012

By Jeannine Anderson
The Nebraska Public Power District’s board of directors voted on Dec. 14 to increase the amount of power produced at the utility's Cooper Nuclear Station. NPPD will seek to increase the plant’s output by 146 megawatts from its current 800-MW nameplate capacity, through an extended power uprate. 

NPPD will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve a license amendment allowing the uprate. The uprate also would have to be approved by the Nebraska Power Review Board. The increase in generation would require no additional facilities or employees, NPPD said. 

The project would require an estimated capital investment of $243 million, NPPD said. Of that amount, $60 million is already committed to modifications necessary to meet requirements the utility agreed to in 2010 when the NRC renewed the plant’s operating license and extended it to 2034.

"The 146 extra megawatts will help NPPD meet the additional load requirements we expect to have as early as 2018," said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. "Other benefits of an extended power uprate include increasing the amount of electricity we can produce from a non-carbon-producing resource, when potential greenhouse gas regulations are on the horizon." In addition, off-system sales from the facility into the regional energy market "could be a significant benefit to Nebraska customers," he said.

One of the key pieces of equipment to be replaced will be the plant’s high-pressure turbine, ordered last May due to the long lead time in manufacturing. "Regardless of a decision to move forward or not with an extended power uprate, the turbine would still have to be replaced," Pope said.

The uprate would be achieved by increasing coolant flow to the reactor, increasing fuel enrichment, generating more heat in the reactor core, and increasing steam flow to the turbine/generator, NPPD said.


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