Fort Calhoun nuclear unit finally back up and running

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Fort Calhoun nuclear plant was back operating at 100% power on Dec. 27, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) daily reactor status report.

OPPD said Dec. 17 that it was “starting the process of creating electricity with nuclear energy” at the 478-MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) in Blair, Neb. The facility, located only 19 miles from Omaha, has been out of service since spring 2011.

The NRC had announced Dec. 17 that the plant was ready for restart.

The unit had shut for a routine refueling outage in April 2011. But the plant encountered rising water levels from flooding along the Missouri River the following month.

Then in June 2011 there was a feeder breaker fire that prompted OPPD to declare an alert. In September 2011 NRC issued a confirmatory action letter (CAL) for problems at Fort Calhoun. In early 2012, OPPD hired Exelon (NYSE:EXC), the nation’s largest nuclear operator, to help it with the plant.

The plant has been working with NRC to overcome significant problems at the site. NRC plans to keep a close eye on Fort Calhoun now that it has returned to operation.

Indeed, most nuclear plants in the nation were listed as operating as 2014 approaches. Only the Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) Prairie Island 2 unit in Minnesota and the Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Arkansas Nuclear 2 facility in Arkansas were listed at 0% (zero percent) generation in the Dec. 27 reactor status report.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.