NPPD Decides Against Uprate for Cooper Nuclear Plant

UPDATED - Another Midwestern utility has shelved plans for an extended power uprate, this time at the Cooper nuclear plant between Omaha, Neb., and Kansas City, Mo.

Cooper nuclear plant. Source: NRCOn Friday, the board of the Nebraska Public Power District voted against a project to increase the plant's output by 18 percent. It did so following a feasibility study pegging its cost at $409 million, an increase of $120 million over previous estimates. In a release, the NPPD said other contributing factors included cheap natural gas, surplus generating capacity and plans to join the Southwest Power Pool's Integrated Marketplace, as well as "unresolved technical issues with regulators at similar nuclear facilities."

Said NPPD CEO Pat Pope: "In light of other utilities’ inability to come in on time and on budget with similar projects, I have significant concerns how that would impact our Nebraska customers. NPPD most likely would not see sufficient returns to justify that expense."

His remark was likely in reference to recent cost overruns during an extended power uprate at Minnesota's Monticello plant. Its owner, Xcel Energy, also cancelled a similar project at its Prairie Island plant last year.

NPPD said it will move ahead with plans to replace Cooper's high-pressure steam turbine, which has already been ordered. Cooper is an 800 megawatt General Electric type 4 boiling water reactor, first licensed in 1974.

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