Report: Shuttering Hanford-area nuclear plant would save $1.7B

Tobin Fricke

Robert McCullough's report found that ratepayers could save $1.7 billion if the Columbia Generating Station is closed.

A new report suggests that utility ratepayers would save a large bundle if the Columbia Generating Station, on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is shut down.

The exact savings: $1.7 billion, wrote Robert McCullough, a utility consultant who compiled the report for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

McCullough recommended that the Bonneville Power Administration seek alternatives to and work to "displace the unit within the current institutional framework."

The report was the subject of a Willamette Week cover story before it was released on Wednesday.

McCullough's analysis suggests that the Columbia Generating Station is failing a "market test" imposed by utilities in the 1990s. The test was intended to serve as a gauge measuring whether the plant cost more than market prices. If so, those adopting the test had agreed to recommend the plant be shut down, according to the report.

McCullough's analysis suggests that the Columbia Generating Station is failing a "market test" imposed by utilities in the 1990s. The test was intended to serve as a gauge measuring whether the plant cost more than market prices. If so, those adopting the test had agreed to recommend the plant be shut down, according to the report.

"Carrying forward the Market Test from fifteen years ago, our study of the present day economics of CGS finds that it has failed the Market Test since 2009," McCullough wrote. "We project that CGS will continue to cost more than market rates in years to come. It also poses physical and financial risks, has an antiquated ownership structure, and is ill-suited to Mid-Columbia area generation operations."

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