Nebraska Public Power District and Entergy have agreed to terminate their nearly 20-year-old support services agreement for the Cooper nuclear power plant.
NPPD said on Monday that it intends to continue operating the plant—Nebraska’s sole power-generating nuclear facility—and will use Entergy and other available industry resources, as appropriate.
In 2003, following a series of performance issues at Cooper, the NPPD board approved a resolution directing the utility’s management to negotiate a long-term contract with Entergy, under the terms of which Entergy would provide support services at Cooper while NPPD continued to own and operate the plant. The agreement was extended in 2010.
Over the past several years, however, New Orleans–based Entergy has been exiting its merchant fleet nuclear operations in the Northeast and elsewhere to focus on the nuclear plants in its regulated utility business operations in the South. Cooper was the last plant outside of Entergy’s regulated utility business for which it had contractual obligations.
What they’re saying: “This was a mutual decision and is in the best interests of both utilities,” said Tom Kent, NPPD’s president and chief executive officer, and Chris Bakken, executive vice president and chief nuclear officer at Entergy, in a joint statement.
“NPPD has had an excellent relationship with Entergy,” Kent said. “Its people and processes have played a key role in helping Cooper nuclear station achieve improved performance. Over the past two decades, we have built up a tremendous amount of experience and skill within our ranks. We have reached a point where we can meet the high expectations for excellence in the commercial nuclear industry with our team at Cooper nuclear station, and as is common in the industry, we can also use supplemental assistance from others in the nuclear industry as needed.”
A necessity for Nebraska: Cooper’s 810-MWe boiling water reactor is NPPD’s largest generating unit and the largest single source of carbon-free generation in the state. It began commercial operation in July 1974 and has the capacity to serve approximately half of the annual energy requirements of NPPD’s retail and wholesale customers. The plant employs about 600 workers and, according to NPPD, has a significant economic impact on southeast Nebraska.
Cooper is currently licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate until early 2034. NPPD said that it will begin discussing the opportunity to pursue subsequent license renewal, which would extend the reactor’s operating license for an additional 20 years.