Columbia Generating Station

Photo: Columbia Generating Station

Columbia Generating Station is the northwest's only commercial nuclear energy facility and is the third largest electricity generator in Washington state, behind Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams.


All of Columbia's output is provided to the Bonneville Power Administration at the cost of production under a formal net billing agreement in which BPA pays the costs of maintaining and operating the facility.

Available 24/7

Columbia is a reliable, baseload, or full-time, energy source. Operation is not dependent on weather conditions.

Refueling occurs every other year and is scheduled when springtime water conditions in the Columbia River Basin are typically high, allowing the federal hydropower dams to produce ample power.​

Integrates with renewables

Columbia operates at 100% power, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but has the ability to load follow, or reduce power, when requested by Bonneville Power Administration for grid stability, hydroelectric system management, periods of high wind or economic considerations.

During hot and cold months, when the wind is typically not blowing, BPA may also request a "no touch" order because of the increased demand for electricity or availability of other resources.

Powering communities

Columbia began providing power to the region in 1984. Since then it has provided billions of dollars worth of electricity while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases or carbon emissions in to the environment.

Vital to a clean energy future

Nearly 20 percent of our nation’s electricity comes from the 96 operating nuclear facilities throughout the United States.

The nationwide push for carbon-free electricity and federal and private investment in the development of small modular reactors have resulted in further consideration of nuclear power as a generation resource.

1 in 5 Homes in the US Runs on Nuclear Power: 19% Nuclear, 1% Petroleum, 7% Hydropower, 6% Other Renewables, 27% Natural Gas, and 39% Coal

Quick Facts

  • Type: General Electric boiling water reactor
  • Generation: 1,207 megawatts (gross)
  • Location: 10 miles north of Richland, Wash.
  • Site Size: ~ 1,089 acres
  • Projected Levelized Cost of Power: 4.7 - 5.2 cents/kWh (2014-2043)

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.


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