Group: Shutting down Richland nuke plant would save money

December 10, 2013 

— Physicians for Social Responsibility plans to release a new report Wednesday showing that shutting down the commercial nuclear power plant near Richland could save utility customers $1.7 billion over 17 years, the group announced.

However, Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration said this spring that a temporary or permanent shutdown of the plant would increase the cost of power for the region.

Costs for consumers would increase at lease $2.5 billion over 20 years if the plant is shut down and replacement power produced by natural gas is purchased, according to Energy Northwest.

Energy Northwest, owner of the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, and BPA released their cost prediction this spring when the Washington and Oregon chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility announced they had commissioned an economic study of the possibility of shutting down the nuclear plant.

Physicians for Social Responsibility said then that the power produced by the plant costs more than the market price of regional electricity.

“We believe this report demonstrates clearly that aging nuclear reactors, in addition to having safety problems, are having trouble competing in the electric power market,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, national executive director of the group, in a prepared statement in advance of the release of the report.

McCullough Research was commissioned to prepare the report.

Physicians for Social Responsibility plans news conferences on Wednesday in Seattle and Portland.

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