Omaha Public Power District shows confidence in Fort Calhoun restart

The Omaha Public Power District said in a brief May 31 statement that it is confident it can get its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant restarted in good time, despite some outside concerns.

News stories have appeared recently after bond rating company Moody’s changed its outlook on OPPD’s bonds from “Negative outlook” to “Review for possible downgrade.” Moody’s cited the fact that Fort Calhoun’s restart will most likely be delayed beyond the second quarter.

“All of the physical work to get ready for restart is known with workers preparing for a final push,” said OPPD in the May 31 statement. “The NRC has inspections scheduled in June on issues remaining.”

The district added that it is important to remember that OPPD’s bonds are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 by Moody’s. OPPD is one of only three public power utilities with bonds rated this high. The change in outlook from Moody’s doesn’t affect the rating, but indicates it could change. OPPD pointed out if the ratings are downgraded, OPPD’s bonds will remain highly rated.

“OPPD is confident that Fort Calhoun Station will restart and that will improve the financial outlook for OPPD,” it added. “Any ratings change will not affect the interest payments of current bond holders.”

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station has been safely shut down since April 2011 for a planned refueling outage. The Missouri River flooding of 2011 interrupted that outage work due to the historic river levels. OPPD is working to correct performance issues identified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) before completing the refueling outage and restarting the plant.

OPPD on May 17 discussed with the NRC how it has responded to the information learned from the NRC and the progress it is making toward restarting the plant. OPPD also noted in the May 17 presentation how Exelon Nuclear is now involved in the station recovery activities.

Fort Calhoun is a 478.6-MW nuclear plant owned and operated by Omaha Public Power District. It is located on the Missouri River 19 miles north of Omaha. The plant began the commercial production of electricity in 1973.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.