Energy Northwest Columbia nuclear plant returned to 100% power

The Energy Northwest Columbia nuclear power plant near Richland, Washington returned to full power on Dec. 28 after going offline due to an unplanned outage on Dec. 18, according to data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The nuclear plant had experienced a full reactor scram before noon on Dec. 18 due to a load reject from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Ashe substation, according to a preliminary event report filed with the NRC.

“Columbia safely shut down at 11:24 a.m. Dec. 18 following an equipment malfunction at the Bonneville Power Administration’s Ashe Substation located near Columbia, resulting in a rejected load on the 500 kilovolt line connecting the plant’s main output transformers to the substation,” Energy Northwest said in a statement. “In response, Columbia’s output breakers properly opened to separate the plant from any potential grid transients.”

The plant was listed at zero power as recently as Dec. 24. The unit resumed power generation on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

It reached full power again on Dec. 28, according to NRC data. It had been at 99% power on Dec. 18 prior to going offline.

Columbia Generating Station, a 1,190-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) that produces enough electricity to power a city the size of Seattle and is the third largest generator of electricity in Washington state. All of Columbia’s electricity is sold at-cost to BPA. Ninety-two Northwest utilities receive a percentage of its output.

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