OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha Public Power District officials said it will cost $5 million to end what was supposed to be a 20-year-contract with the company that has managed day-to-day operations at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant since 2012.
The power district began permanently shutting down the nation's smallest nuclear power plant on Monday. It's one of the first steps of a decommissioning process that could last decades.
Exelon Generation has managed Fort Calhoun since September 2012, when it stepped in to bring the nuclear plant back from a nearly three-year outage, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The utility would have paid $400 million to Exelon if it had completed its licensing term in 2033.
When Exelon first started helping OPPD, the nuclear plant was considered a troubled reactor due to historic flooding on the Missouri River and a costly electrical fire. Fort Calhoun returned to full-power status in December 2013 under the control of Exelon.
The $5 million cost to end the contract is only a fraction of the $20 million termination fee that, according to OPPD financial disclosures, the power district would have had to pay if it ended the contract without cause. Generally, the district would not have had to pay anything if there was "termination for cause and certain other termination events." OPPD claimed the shutdown is for economic reasons, which is technically a cause but not a strong enough argument to break contract for free, OPPD officials said. Therefore, the power district settled on paying the $5 million.
OPPD estimates that the plant shutdown will save possibly up to $994 million over the next 20 years. A utility spokeswoman said it is unclear when the contract will be terminated.