WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Shutting down the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant could cost as much $1 billion when it reaches the end of its useful life about 30 years from now, according to a new report.
The cost is recalculated every three years, allowing the Kansas Corporation Commission to ensure enough money is collected from customers to fund a trust to pay for the future expense, The Wichita Eagle reported Saturday.
The report, prepared by consultant TLG Services Inc., offers two options. Dismantling the plant as soon as it’s shut down would cost around $765 million in current-value dollars, although the expense could increase to more than $1 billion if issues surrounding the long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel aren’t resolved. The other scenario is mothballing the plant near Burlington and tearing it down gradually over several decades at a cost $1.03 billion.
This year marks the first time any cost estimate for dismantling Wolf Creek has exceeded $1 billion. The last report from 2011 estimated the cost of the immediate removal option at $630 million and the delayed removal option at $884 million.
Part of the reason for the increase is that the plant, which cost $3 billion to construct, has added buildings in past three years that would have to be removed with the plant, said Terry Young, a spokesman for the operating company.
Other drivers of higher estimates include increased rates for disposal of nonfuel radioactive waste, program management and security costs. The nuclear industry also has acquired better data, based on the actual costs of decommissioning older plants around the country, Young said.
Despite the projected cost increases, Westar Energy and the state’s consumer advocate said they don’t expect it to substantially raise rates in the near term. Wolf Creek operates the nuclear plant on behalf of Westar and its other two owners, Kansas City Power & Light and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative.
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