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Columbia Generating Station commences 20-year extended operation

News Release

​A new era begins for Washington's nuclear power plant​

RICHLAND, Wash. – December 21, 2023 marks an important moment in the history of Columbia Generating Station, the Pacific Northwest's 1,207 megawatt-electric nuclear power plant. It's the day the station enters its 20-year period of extended operation, securing its commitment to providing the region with safe, reliable and clean power generation through 2043.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the original 40-year operating license for Columbia on Dec. 20, 1983. At the time, the initial 40-year term for reactor licenses was determined by economic factors, not limitations in nuclear technology. Energy Northwest worked for many years to gain approval for a 20-year license re​newal – a decision from the NRC that came in May 2012 after a lengthy and thorough review process, requiring the station to demonstrate it met all technical, safety and environmental requirements through the additional 20 years of operation.

"Columbia will continue to be a crucial source of reliable and clean energy, thanks to the dedication of our skilled workforce and the unwavering support of the public power community," said Bob Schuetz, CEO of Energy Northwest. "As we begin the next 20 years of our license, continued operation plays a vital role in sustaining not just hundreds, but thousands of jobs. Furthermore, it ensures a consistent supply of clean energy at a time when every kilowatt counts."

The power plant provides approximately 10% of Washington state's annual power and about 800 jobs, not including contractors and other downstream employment.

“Just like our last 40 years, the next 20 are made possible by the dedication of generations of workers who have tirelessly cared for and maintained this plant — be it operators, technicians, planners and every individual who have had a role in its success," Schuetz said.

Energy Northwest is already assessing a second 20-year license renewal for Columbia to operate through 2063, as well as a power uprate that would generate additional megawatts. Additionally, to meet the northwest's future clean energy needs, earlier this year Energy Northwest announced the signing of a joint development agreement with X-energy to explore deployment of a Xe-100 advanced reactor project at a site adjacent to Columbia. ​

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