Hanford

Richland nuclear plant sets generation record

The Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant near Richland, sent more electricity to the grid in 2016 than any other year in its 32 year history.
The Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant near Richland, sent more electricity to the grid in 2016 than any other year in its 32 year history. Courtesy Energy Northwest

The nuclear power plant near Richland has set a new annual generation record, despite two unexpected outages in 2016.

The Columbia Generating Station sent 9.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid in 2016, beating the previous generation record set in 2014 of 9.5 million megawatt hours, Energy Northwest said on Wednesday. The plant has operated for 32 years.

The plant’s electricity output has been steadily increasing for five years, in part because of maintenance and upgrades done every other year when the plant is shut down in the spring to replace fuel, according to Energy Northwest. The next refueling outage is to start May 13.

Work since 2011 has added roughly 40 megawatts to the nuclear plant’s production capacity. It now has an output of 1,190 megawatts and has operated at 93 percent capacity since 2012.

“We continue to focus on performance excellence and the team’s response to adversity is one way it shines through,” said Brad Sawatzke, chief nuclear officer.

The plant had its first scram, or uplanned shutdown, in more than six years in March when the control room received an indication that a system used to cool large pumps and other equipment had lost water. A second scram occurred in December in response to a Bonneville Power Administration problem with a transmission line.

“The team rallied after both instances,” Sawatzke said.

The electricity from the plant is purchased by BPA and distributed to 92 utilities in the Northwest.

  Comments