Columbia Generating Station sets new generation record

John Dobken, Public Affairs, 509-377-8369
Anna Markham, Public Affairs, 509-377-8162       
RICHLAND, Wash. – Columbia Generating Station produced more clean, nuclear energy for the Northwest power grid during 2016 than any other year in its 32-year history. Columbia sent more than 9.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid, beating the previous generation record set in 2014 (9.5 million MWhrs). Columbia has set new generation records four out of the last five years.

“Columbia’s low-cost power is absolutely critical if we’re to achieve this state’s and the region’s clean energy goals,” said Mark Reddemann, Energy Northwest CEO. “I’m proud of the team for their hard work in setting this latest plant record.”

The record came despite two setbacks during the year: an unplanned outage in March, the first in more than six years for the station; and an equipment malfunction at the Bonneville Power Administration’s Ashe Substation, which required Columbia to power down for a week last month.

“The team rallied after both instances, there’s no doubt about it,” said Brad Sawatzke, chief nuclear officer. “We continue to focus on performance excellence and the team’s response to adversity is one way it shines through.”

Columbia began 2016 setting a monthly generation record (860,813 MWhrs), breaking the record set the December before. In April, the American Public Power Association awarded Energy Northwest first place in its Safety Awards of Excellence. Energy Northwest’s APPA safety score was more than ten times better than the second-place finisher in its category. In December, the state’s chamber of commerce, the Association of Washington Business, named EN its 2016 Employer of the Year.

Columbia’s electricity output has been steadily increasing over the past five years in part due to work performed during the plant’s biennial refueling and maintenance outages, work that has added roughly 40 megawatts to its capacity since 2011. Columbia now has an output of 1,190 megawatts (gross) while operating at a capacity factor above 93 percent since 2012. Columbia will shut down for its next refueling and maintenance outage May 13.

Columbia Generating Station is the third largest generator of electricity in Washington state. All of its electricity is sold at-cost to BPA. Columbia represents about 12 percent of BPA’s firm energy and 9.5 percent of Bonneville’s sustained peak capacity. Ninety-two Northwest utilities receive a percentage of its output.
Columbia Generation Station Net Generation (2012-2016)

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About Energy Northwest                                                                                                    
Energy Northwest develops, owns and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar and wind projects – and the Northwest’s only nuclear power facility. These projects provide enough reliable, affordable and environmentally respon­sible energy to power more than a million homes each year, and that carbon-free electricity is provided at the cost of generation. As a Washington state, joint action agency, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million ratepayers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs.