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Columbia Generating Station produces record amount of energy in 2022

News Release

RICHLAND, Wash. – In 2022, Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station produced enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes across the region – powering our way of life and keeping the lights on.

The Pacific Northwest’s only nuclear generating station produced a record amount of electricity last year — more than 9.8 million megawatt-hours, all of it carbon-free – supporting the region’s clean energy transition. It is the highest output for any calendar or fiscal year in the station’s 38-year history.

“This record demonstrates our team’s commitment to excellent performance, and the immense value that 24/7 baseload power brings to our region,” CEO Bob Schuetz said.

​Columbia produces energy around the clock but can also flex power output as needed to support regional power needs. Energy Northwest works closely with the Bonneville Power Administration and can reduce generation during periods of excess supply or run at 100% power during times of high demand, such as extreme cold and heat events.

BPA markets the output of Columbia as part of its clean energy portfolio that includes power generated by 31 federal dams in the Columbia Basin. Bonneville is a nonprofit, self-funded federal power marketing administration under the Department of Energy that provides about a third of the region’s electricity, delivering wholesale power to consumer-owned electric utilities throughout the Northwest.

During the majority of December, Bonneville requested Energy Northwest limit any maintenance activity at Columbia that would either require a reduction in power or pose a risk to sustaining 100% generation due to increased demand for electricity and cold temperatures in the region.

“When we have extreme temperatures, the region – and our public power members – rely on the full-time capacity that nuclear energy has to offer,” said Schuetz. 

Energy Northwest and BPA have worked together for years to manage Columbia’s power supply for grid reliability. When the station reduces power at BPA’s request, the agency grants EN economic dispatch credits, which acknowledge the amount of power the station would have produced if it had continued running at full-strength. 

In addition to a new generation record, Columbia’s capacity factor in 2022 was 99.4%, meaning it was producing power almost the entire year. Nuclear energy has the highest capacity factor of any energy source. Columbia produces 1,207 gross megawatts when operating at 100% power. 
“We applaud Energy Northwest’s continued focus on producing reliable, carbon-free electricity,” said BPA Administrator and CEO John Hairston. “They continue to be a valuable partner that BPA, our utility customers and the region can count on.”
Energy Northwest will take Columbia offline for about 40 days beginning in May for its biennial refueling and to complete maintenance that has to be performed when the station is offline.   

About Energy Northwest                                                                 
Energy Northwest is a Washington state public power joint operating agency and a premier provider of carbon-free electricity. Energy Northwest comprises 28 public power member utilities, serving more than 1.5 million customers, and provides its members and regional customers with safe, reliable, cost-effective, responsible power generation and innovative energy and business solutions. The agency owns and operates hydroelectric, solar, battery storage, wind and the Northwest’s only nuclear power facility. Energy Northwest also explores transportation electrification and new generation projects to the benefit of public power.​​​

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