Complaint filed with FERC over Grand Gulf management

March 8, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC), the New Orleans City Council, and the Arkansas Public Service Commission on March 2 filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against Entergy Corporation, seeking damages of more than $360 million for what they term the utility’s “imprudent operation” of the Grand Gulf nuclear plant.

Located in Port Gibson, Miss., Grand Gulf is a single-unit plant with a 1,433-MWe boiling water reactor. The unit, which entered commercial operation in 1985, supplies power to customers of Entergy Louisiana, Entergy Mississippi, Entergy Arkansas, and Entergy New Orleans.

Specifics: The complaint, according to an LPSC press release, seeks damages for the “sub-par performance” of Grand Gulf for the period 2016–2020 and calls for an investigation of Entergy’s management of the plant from 2012 forward. It also requests an investigation into the prudence of an $800 million capacity uprate of Grand Gulf in 2012, which, LPSC states, led to an overall decreased output from the plant in the period 2012–2020.

Further, the complaint alleges that customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, New Orleans, and Mississippi had to pay for the full fixed investment and operating costs of Grand Gulf, even when it produced no electricity; that the plant achieved output levels 30 percent below the average of U.S. nuclear plants; that its safety ranking is inferior to that of all but a few other nuclear plants; and that unplanned outages at the plant caused shortages in the midcontinent electric coordination region, driving up market prices of energy.

What they’re saying: “A primary responsibility of the commission is to ensure utilities are accountable to their customers in the way they run their businesses,” said Craig Greene, LPSC chairman. “To that end, Entergy customers deserve a full look at the potential imprudent management of Grand Gulf and, eventually, appropriate refunds if it is found that Entergy passed unnecessary costs onto those customers.”

What Entergy is saying: “We are investing in our Grand Gulf facility to position it for many years of safe, secure, and reliable operations,” an Entergy spokesman said in a statement provided to Newswire. “In 2020, we invested in significant upgrades, replacing the plant’s turbine control system to extend the life and efficiency of the facility. In late 2020, the plant experienced operational issues related to that upgrade, including unplanned shutdowns and time spent off the grid. We’ve worked to identify the related issues, implemented a maintenance outage, and conducted additional training for our team. The team operated Grand Gulf at 100 percent power throughout the recent unprecedented winter storms, providing much needed carbon-free electricity to customers.”

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