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News Releases : OPPD to consider updating plant decommissioning method

Due to the great strides made by Omaha Public Power District employees in the decommissioning of Fort Calhoun Station (FCS), the utility will consider a timely, more economical approach. In a presentation shared with the OPPD Board of Directors during their committee meetings Tuesday, the district’s senior management team provided the option of shifting from the SAFSTOR (safe storage) decommissioning method to DECON (decontamination).

The board is considering recent analysis that indicates adopting the DECON option may reduce the district’s financial liability and regulatory risk, since DECON would start decontamination activities sooner than currently planned under the SAFSTOR option. Under the DECON strategy, the facility and its equipment are decontaminated, and then the components are safely disposed of at a low-level waste disposal site. This would take place over approximately the next 10 years. Under the SAFSTOR method, residual radioactivity is allowed to naturally decay, in place, over the next 60 years.

DECON has the potential to save the utility up to an estimated $200 million, due to reduced building maintenance and upkeep.

Other DECON benefits highlighted during a presentation to the board include: reducing financial liability sooner, shortening the time of regulatory risk, reducing work redundancies, improving efficiency, ensuring the availability of a waste-disposal option, providing an opportunity to repurpose the plant site, and providing greater cost certainty.

The board will receive more details regarding shifting to the DECON strategy during their October board meeting, after which they will make a decision as to which decommissioning method to pursue.

“We chose SAFSTOR in the first place due to the flexibility it provided to move up the time frame or switch to DECON, if it made sense,” said Tim Burke, OPPD president and CEO. “Our workers’ performance makes the potential move to DECON possible.”

OPPD Vice President of Energy Production and Nuclear Decommissioning Mary Fisher added, “Over the past couple of years, our employees have really rolled up their sleeves, while working safely to keep this project moving on time and under budget.”

Costs associated with decommissioning FCS come from the district’s decommissioning fund, which currently totals $439 million. The current decommissioning funding plan is expected to continue and we believe will support the shift to Decon. Over the next month, we will explore the DECON options and associated costs. OPPD remains committed to no general rate increases through 2021 with either decommissioning strategy.

Read more about the DECON option at OPPD’s The Wire.

Board seeking public feedback

As discussed in this week’s committee meetings, the board is seeking input on potential updates to one of its strategic direction policies, which were created in 2015. Specifically, the board is currently updating Board Policy: Strategic Directive-7 (SD-7), related to Environmental Stewardship.

This strategic direction policy, one of 15 in total, was adopted in 2015 as part of the board’s Governance Initiative.  

These policies are designed to help the board: 1) sharpen its focus on critical issues, 2) clarify the relationship between the board and management, 3) optimize decision-making, and 4) deliver organizational results aligned with agreed-upon strategic performance objectives and risk levels.

The public is invited to offer input on draft policy refinement through OPPD.com where the policy is posted with a link to a feedback form. Comments will be received through Oct. 8.

After reviewing feedback, the board expects to determine appropriate next steps in the policy review process during October’s committee meeting, Oct. 9.

Other board business

At today’s meeting, directors:

  • Approved the July 2018 Comprehensive Financial and Operating Reports, the Aug. 16, 2018 board meeting minutes, and the Aug. 16, 2018 board agenda.
  • Approved a resolution allowing for revisions to the previously approved resolution allowing for the use of condemnation, if necessary, in acquiring easements for the Sarpy Transmission Project. Revisions are needed, as there have been modifications to the project. Condemnation is only used after all reasonable efforts have been attempted to acquire easements voluntarily.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the use of eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire permanent and temporary easements for the Sarpy County Transmission Line Rebuild Project. OPPD plans to rebuild an existing 161-kilovolt line to increase capacity and reduce congestion for growing demand and reliability purposes.
  • Received the president’s monthly utility report. You can view that report after it is posted by visiting oppd.com/boardmeeting.

Next meetings

Next month’s board committee meetings will start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9. The monthly board meeting will be Thursday, Oct. 11, at 4 p.m. Both meetings will take place at OPPD’s Energy Plaza, 444 S. 16th St., Omaha. The meetings also are livestreamed at oppd.com.