An analysis recently published in Platts’ Nuclear Fuel found Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station had the lowest nuclear fuel cost of 28 plants surveyed across the country. Columbia’s fuel cost for fiscal year 2013 was 5.99 mills per kilowatt-hour of generation. A mill is a 10th of a cent. The average for the 28 plants surveyed is 8.16 mills per kwh, according to Platts.
“The plants reported their fuel costs either on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Form 1 or to Platts. These costs take into account such fuel-related expenses as the cost of uranium, conversion, enrichment services and the fabricated cost of the fuel, as well as the amortized value of all fuel in the reactor core that year and payments to the Nuclear Waste Fund,” Platts wrote in the article.
Energy Northwest financial data shows even lower nuclear fuel costs for Columbia in fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, 5.45 mills and 3.39 mills per kwh, respectively.
Energy Northwest’s historic low fuel costs can be directly attributed to the management of the nuclear fuels program, which looks for innovative ways to reduce costs.
“The Platts analysis confirms that the strategic moves we have made as an organization regarding our fuel management program are paying off for Northwest ratepayers,” Energy Northwest chief financial officer Brent Ridge said. “The uranium tails transaction completed in 2012 will only serve to continue this industry-leading trend in low fuel costs for Columbia.”
Energy Northwest began looking at the pursuit of recycling depleted uranium contained in the Department of Energy’s stockpiles in 2003 and the initial efforts led to the Uranium Tails Pilot Program, a demonstration program designed to determine if the DOE stockpiles could be successfully reused. The pilot program ran from May 2005 through December of 2006 and was successful in every aspect. Energy Northwest received 1,940 metric tons of natural uranium from the pilot, which was placed into inventory allowing the agency to avoid purchasing uranium during the historic price run up in that period. The 2012 tails program was a larger follow-on program that again will help Energy Northwest control costs for the region’s ratepayers.
Columbia Generating Station, an 1,190-megawatt boiling water reactor, produces enough electricity to power a city the size of Seattle and is the third largest generator of electricity in Washington state.
All of Columbia’s electricity is sold at-cost to Bonneville Power Administration. Ninety-two Northwest utilities receive a percentage of its output.
Platts, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, is an independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets. More information can be found at their website: www.platts.com.
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 energy 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. Energy Northwest – www.energy-northwest.com.