NPPD decides against Cooper uprate

12 August 2013

A proposed power uprate of the single-unit Cooper nuclear power plant has been shelved after Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) concluded that it could not justify the expense of the project.

Cooper NPP (Xcel) 250
The Cooper plant in Nebraska (Image: NPPD)

An extended power uprate - which would involve equipment upgrades - had been under consideration since late 2012 to raise the boiling water reactor's generating capacity from 800 MWe to some 946 MWe.

However, having conducted a detailed feasibility study for the proposed uprate, NPPD's board has now voted not to proceed with the project. A more in-depth estimate by management for the uprate had raised the price from $289 million to $409 million, the company said.

NPPD president and CEO Pat Pope said, "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."

Under the proposed plan, new equipment would have been installed during three successive scheduled refuelling and maintenance outages in 2014, 2016 and 2018, with a new turbine expected to be installed during the 2016 outage. The company has already ordered a replacement high-pressure steam turbine. However, it said that this would be needed regardless of the uprate in order for Cooper to continue operating until its current licence expires in 2034.

Other uprate projects

Last week, Xcel Energy restarted its Monticello single-unit plant after an extended power uprate which increased its generating capacity from 600 MWe to 671 MWe. However, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has ordered an investigation into delays and cost overruns in the project. Xcel estimated the cost of the project to be $320 million when it began in 2008, but the actual cost came to $655 million.

In June, Exelon confirmed that it will not be going through with capacity uprate projects at the LaSalle and Limerick nuclear power plants due to market conditions. Each plant has two reactors and the total of the uprates across all four would have been 370 MWe.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News