History of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant
- Enron Corruption: The Special Oregon Connection
Read only the section entitled Enron buys its way to charging ratepayers another $300 million for Trojan profits.
- Read a legal document about PGE charging ratepayers investment costs and a profit on Trojan in violation of voter-approved Ballot Measure 9 (1978)
- Read an additional document entitled Brief history of prior litigation establishing the legal basis for these class actions.
History according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(as of May 10, 2006)
Trojan Nuclear Power Plant is a decomissioned pressurised water reactor (PWR) nuclear power plant in Rainier, Oregon, USA, and the only nuclear power plant to be built in Oregon. After only sixteen years service it was closed by its operator, Portland General Electric, almost twenty years before its design lifetime.
Trojan suffered three main problems:
While operating, Trojan represented more than 12% of the electricity generation capacity of Oregon, while more than 80% of it was hydropower from dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and the rest mainly fossil fuel. Since its closure, there have also been significant installations of wind power, most notably the 123 MWe Stateline Wind Project.
Construction of Trojan began on 1 February 1970, and first criticality was achieved on 15 December 1975 and grid connection on 23 December. Commercial operation began on 20 May 1976, under a 35 year licence to expire in 2011. The single 1130 MWe unit at Trojan was then the largest PWR unit that had been built.
In 1978, the plant was closed for nine months while modifications were made to improve its resistance to earthquakes, following discovery both of major building construction errors and of the close proximity of a previously unknown faultline. The operators sued the constructors, and an undisclosed out of court settlement was eventually made.
The Trojan steam generators were designed to last the life of the plant, but it was only four years before trouble was first detected, as premature cracking of the steam tubes. In 1992, rupture of a steam tube finally closed the plant, and it was announced that replacement of the steam generators would be necessary before it could restart.
Environmental opposition dogged Trojan all of its life, including violent clashes both inside and outside the boundary fence. In an Oregon state poll in 1980, a proposal to ban construction of further nuclear power plants in the state was approved by voters. Then in 1986, a proposal by Lloyd Marbet for immediate closure of the Trojan plant was defeated. This proposal was resubmitted in 1990, and again in 1992 when a competing proposal by Jerry and Marilyn Wilson to close the plant was also included. Although all of these closure proposals were defeated, in campaigning against them the plant operators committed to successively earlier closure dates for the plant.
In 1992, PGE spent over $5 million to defeat a statewide ballot measure to close Trojan in what is still the most expensive ballot measure campaign in Oregon history. Then, within a week, the Trojan plant suffered yet another steam generator tube leak of radioactive water and was shut down. In December 1992, documents leaked from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, showing that staff scientists believed that Trojan may be unsafe to operate. In January 1993, PGE announced it would not try to restart Trojan.
Nevertheless, PGE continued to charge its ratepayers for the full cost of the plant, including decommissioning and waste disposal, and the same profit it would have earned if the plant had remained operating. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) also allowed PGE to charge ratepayers for the new projects built to replace the plant, along with profits on the new plants.
In 1978, Oregon voters had adopted by a vote of 69 to 21% a ballot measure to prohibit utilities from charging ratepayers any cost of plants not currently providing utility service to customers. Lloyd Marbet and other activists worked on this measure.
In 1995, the OPUC allowed PGE to continue to charge ratepayers both for return of the investment over the original expected 35-year life of Trojan and to charge ratepayers to receive a profit on Trojan of over 13% before taxes, for a total of $251 million of Trojan investment and $304 million for profit over the next 17 years. This is in addition to another $300 million in Trojan decommissioning costs over the next 17 years as well, all of which are being paid by ratepayers.
The Utility Reform Project, Lloyd K. Marbet, and CUB appealed this decision to the courts. In June 1998, the Oregon Court of Appeals agreed that allowing the $304 million in profit was a violation of Ballot Measure 9 of 1978. The utilities then substantially increased their contributions to candidates for the Oregon Legislature running in November 1998. As soon as the Legislature convened in January 1999, Enron/PGE had Rep. Jim Hill of Hillsboro introduce a bill to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeals. Jim Hill was quoted in the paper as saying that he was "carrying water for the utilities." After the Legislature passed the bill and Governor Kitzhaber signed it, we waited for the end of the 1999 session and then collected over 60,000 signatures within 90 days to place this bill on the November 2000 ballot as a referendum, Measure 90. The anti-Trojan forces won by over 88% of the vote and received more votes that any side on any Ballot Measure in Oregon history, over 1.2 million.
In the meantime, however, CUB entered into a Settlement Agreement with Enron/PGE, under which CUB withdrew from all of the lawsuits and supported a deal for PGE to collect from ratepayers either the same amount as before or even more than before. CUB got a payment from PGE of over $227,000 from PGE as part of the deal. The Utility Reform Project (URP) filed a complaint at the OPUC challenging this deal as illegal under Ballot Measure 9 of 1978 and the Court of Appeals opinion. URP's expert witness concluded that, for ratepayers, the Settlement was worse than losing the lawsuits that URP had been winning. PGE ratepayers had already paid to PGE more than the full investment of Trojan, plus $186 million more, as of October 1, 2001. The Settlement took away all of that money and far more. It took away:
> $161.9 million in credits owed to ratepayers when PGE sold itself to Enron in 1996 and sold long-term power contracts to California
> $15.4 million in NEIL (nuclear industry insurance) distributions
It also imposed upon ratepayers an additional cost of $36.7 million (present value) cost in the form of a "new Regulatory Asset." "Offsetting" this admitted $214 million (present value) cost to ratepayers is a "Customer Credit" of $2.5 million, leaving ratepayers with a net cost of $211.5 million (present value) from the "CUB Stipulation". This is on top of everything ratepayers had already paid. So it gave up over $400 million (present value) that would otherwise have been credited to ratepayers over the next 10 years.
PGE and the OPUC staff admitted, under oath, that the Settlement actually increased PGE's rates by $25.7 million as of October 1, 2001, and by a further $15.7 million as of each of the next two Octobers.
The OPUC again approved this deal in April 2002. URP again appealed to the courts and again won at the Marion County Circuit Court in 2004. In the meantime, PGE ratepayers filed class action suits against PGE for recovery of the unlawful profits. In December 2004, the Marion County Circuit Court granted summary judgment on liability to plaintiffs and certified a class of approximately one million ratepayers. PGE filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Oregon Supreme Court to halt the Circuit Court class action. The Oregon Supreme Court heard argument in September 2005 but has not yet ruled.
As of 2005 the reactor vessel and other radioactive equipment has been removed from the Trojan plant. The reactor vessel was transported intact by barge along the Columbia River to Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington where it was buried. The spent fuel is stored onsite in 34 dry casks, awaiting transport to Yucca Mountain Repository.
The iconic cooling tower are to be demonlished via dynamite explosion on May 21, 2006.
Courtesy of Wikipedia (as of May 10, 2006)