Clean Energy

Ninety-nine nuclear power plants nationwide produce reliable, baseload power, no matter the weather, to keep our country’s electric grids stable – all without emitting any greenhouse gases.

The electricity generated by Columbia Generating Station annually prevents about 4.4 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Additionally, one uranium pellet is equivalent to the energy provided by 149 gallons of oil; 1,780 pounds of coal; or 17 million British thermal units of natural gas.


Since nuclear energy facilities do not emit air pollutants
or greenhouse gases, nuclear power is considered clean energy. The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that the nation's operating nuclear plants accounted for the avoidance of the following total emissions in 2009

  • 1.99 million short tons of sulfur dioxide
  • 0.56 million short tons of nitrogen oxides
  • 647 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

 Emissions avoided by Columbia in 2009 were approximately:  

  • 6,900 tons of sulfur dioxide
  • 7,500 tons of nitrogen oxide
  • 5,500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide

All commercial nuclear plants create radioactive byproducts; the most significant being used nuclear fuel. Every two years Columbia is powered down for refueling. Fuel assemblies that have been in the reactor for six years are removed and placed in underwater storage in the reactor building before being moved to above ground dry storage. Energy Northwest has an on-site dry storage installation, which allows for storage of used fuel in specially designed and manufactured casks.

Even after six years powering the reactors, these used fuel rods still contain more than 95 percent of their energy potential. Recycling of used nuclear fuel – common practice in foreign countries but not yet in practice in the U.S. – will dramatically reduce the need for long-term storage facilities and minimize the need for additional uranium mining.

nuclear101.png Learn more about nuclear power 


C-Bullet.jpg Quick Facts

Boiling water reactor (nuclear)

Generating Capacity:

Approximately 1,190 megawatts (net)

10 miles north of Richland, Wash.

Site Size:
~1,089 acres

Projected Levelized
Cost of Power

4.7 - 5.2 cents/kWh
Comparison Costs*: 
Natural Gas: 6 - 14 cents/kWh
Wind: 7 - 10 cents/kWh
Solar: 11 - 42 cents/kWh 
*Levelized costs according to the Energy Information Administration. Levelized cost represents the per kilowatt-hour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs, financing costs and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type. 

C-History.jpg History

Construction Permit Issued:
March 1973
NRC Issued Plant Operating License:
December 1983
Operating License Expiration:
December 2043
First Electricity Produced:
May 1984
Commercial Operation:
December 1984
First Refueling Completed:
April 1986