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July 1, 2003

Maintenance woes costly for nuke plant

RICHLAND (AP) -- Delays in restarting the Northwest's only commercial nuclear power plant are costing $15 million to $20 million in lost electricity sales.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," said Greg Delwiche, vice president for generation supply at the Bonneville Power Administration, which sells the electricity produced at the 1,200-megawatt Columbia Generating Station.

"We're missing a better-than-usual June market."

Columbia Generating Station's planned 34-day refueling and maintenance outage had stretched to 50 days Friday because of several maintenance problems.

Energy Northwest, which owns the unit, hoped to return the power plant to the electrical generation grid over the weekend, but it will only go online at partial power -- about 800 megawatts -- until mid-July.

The plant won't return to full power until a pump that pushes water through the nuclear reactor can be repaired and reinstalled. It is expected to be back in service July 14.

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