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Industry News

OPPD to Close Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station on October 24

LCG, September 1, 2016--The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) last Friday formally submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that operations at the 478-MW Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station will end on October 24. The OPPD Board of Directors voted June 16 to close the plant by the end of the year.

An OPPD spokesperson stated, "Last week's letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with the Oct. 24 date formalized our commitment to cease operations at Fort Calhoun Station by the end of the year. Today, we are focused on the continued safe operation of the plant. Teams are developing more than 50 decommissioning project plans and benchmarking other decommissioning plants, in an effort to capitalize on lessons learned."

OPPD stated in May that the continued operation of Fort Calhoun Station is not in the long-term financial best interests of OPPD or its customer-owners and recommended to cease power generation at the facility by the end of this year.

OPPD sees the industry trend of slow revenue growth, market conditions and increasing regulatory and operational costs causing the early retirement of other U.S. nuclear generating stations as well. A recent example is Pacific Gas and Electric Company's announcement last June to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant when its operating licenses expire. Furthermore, the lack of regulatory support in the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan for existing nuclear units leaves little incentive to continue to invest in the carbon-free power plant. The Fort Calhoun Station, with a generating capacity of 478 MW, is the smallest rated unit in North America and lacks economies of scale.

OPPD's strategic directives, established by the Board a year ago, call for reducing rates to 20 percent below the regional average. Continued operations of the nuclear plant, with its high operating costs, would be challenging in this time of low natural gas prices and low wholesale power prices.

Fort Calhoun Station began generating power in 1973 and has since delivered over a third of OPPD's annual electric generation through March 2012.
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