NPPD considers early Cooper closure

3 June 2002

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is considering putting its 28-year-old 800MWe Cooper plant into early retirement. The plant is licensed until 2014.

MidAmerican Energy - which currently purchases 50% of the plant's output, has said that it will not renew its contract when it expires in September 2004. Lincoln Electric Systems has also announced that it will not renew its contract for 12.5% of Cooper's output when its deal with NPPD expires in September 2003.

Three factors will be considered when deciding the fate of Cooper.

The first is the potential litigation in a dispute over decommissioning costs. These have been estimated at $500 million. As of March 2002, the fund stood at $297 million. MidAmerican Energy and Lincoln Electric had been paying decommissioning costs since 1984, but they stopped doing so in December 2000, pending a court decision on this.

The second factor is Cooper's operational performance, including its status with the NRC which, in April 2002, downgraded Cooper to the lowest level that a reactor can continue to operate at.

Finally, there is the possibility of MidAmerican and Lincoln not renewing their contracts with NPPD.

The board of NPPD has a number of options: it can continue to operate Cooper; it can sell or lease the plant; it can find someone else to operate the plant; or it can close the plant down.
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