Columbia Among Power Magazine's Top Nuclear Plants

Power Magazine has named its three top nuclear power plants of the year, tipping its hat to the Columbia Generating Station as the top U.S. plant.

Columbia NPPThe magazine applauded the only plant in the Northwestern United States for its ability to bounce back from a rough patch that included several unscheduled shut downs prior to a change in management in 2010, when Energy Northwest hired Mark Reddemann as its chief executive officer, a move that coincided with hiring Brad Sawatzke, who started in December 2010 as the new vice president of Nuclear Generation and Chief Nuclear Officer. Sawatzke is currently Energy Northwest's chief operating officer.

The energy company owned by 27 public utilities runs the Columbia station that sells its entire production to the Bonneville Power Administration at cost. Highlights noted by the magazine, however, include a recent “breaker to breaker” run with no unscheduled shutdowns from refueling to refueling in 2015 – “one of our proudest moments,” said Sawatzke – and a string of output records set in 2012 (9.3 TWh), 2014 (9.5 TWh) and 2016 (9.6 TWh), owing to upgrades, plant modifications and steady maintenance improvements.

The Columbia power plant, located on the grounds of the federal Hanford site, is a 1,207-MW GE-model Mark 2 boiling water reactor that reached commercial operating status in December 1984.

The magazine also named the Unit 6 at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant in Voronezh Oblast, Russia, and the Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant in Varobacka, Sweden, as the year's top nuclear power plants. As the latest incarnation of the Water-Water Energetic Reactor type (VVER), Unit 6 at Novovoronezh “holds many lessons for future nuclear development,” the magazine noted. The Swedish plant was honored as an “iconiic” facility that is “pressing ahead” despite the political and economic headwinds of today's nuclear power industry. 

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