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Page last updated May 22, 2017

Projects 3 and 5 were partially completed nuclear projects located on the Satsop Site on approximately 1600 acres near Elma, Washington, in Grays Harbor County.

The Washington Public Power Supply System filed an application for the construction and operation of the twin 3 and 5 projects in December 1973. Hearings were held from August to November 1975 and an SCA was signed on October 27, 1976.

WNP-3: Construction began on WNP-3 in 1977. The project is jointly owned, 70% by the Supply System (BPA has acquired the Supply System's ownership share of Project 3 through a net billing agreement); and 30% by four investor-owned utilities (Pacific Power & Light, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Power & light, and Washington Water Power).

As noted above, in 1980 the Supply System made major management changes and took initiatives to: bring in an experienced construction manager for all the projects (Bechtel); reduce unnecessary expenditures; secure changes in state contracting laws; stabilize labor agreements; and identify the true costs to complete the projects.

The results of these reforms were evident in all the projects, but were probably most obvious at WNP-3 which became known as the Supply System's showcase project before it was reluctantly placed in an extended construction delay in July 1983. The construction pace doubled from around 1% completion a month to an average of 2% per month in 1982. During that time about a quarter of the plant was completed, advancing it from 42.9% in 12/81 to 68.2% in December 1982. But despite the reforms and excellent construction progress, it was necessary for the either delay or terminate at four of its projects in 1982-83.

The Supply System's worsening financial condition in 1983 led to the reluctant decision in July 1983 to delay construction on WNP-3 for up to three years. That decision stemmed from the Supply System being prevented from raising the $961 million needed to complete WNP-3 from revenue sale bonds. At the time construction was halted, the project was about 76% complete and just about to make the transition from the primary construction phase to testing, startup, and operations.

Just as at WNP-1 at Hanford, WNP-3 then entered into a preservation program that was designed to preserve the equipment and construction licenses so that the plants could be restarted at some future date if the region decided they were needed. This program involved such steps as wrapping the electric switching gear in plastic, purging the steam generators with an inert gas, rotating turbine generator shafts every six months, and at Satsop, maintaining a vigorous humidity and moisture control regime to prevent corrosion on the many pieces of equipment both inside and outside the plant. The costs of the preservation program were paid by BPA as the 1 and 3 plants were identified as "options" or possible future resources if they were cost-effective and financing impediments could be lifted.

In April 1993, the Supply System Executive Board recommended termination studies for Projects 1 and 3. The realization that completion of the projects as commercial nuclear power plants was unlikely, prompted the board's action. Preservation activities would continue until the results of the Supply System/BPA study was completed.

On May 13, 1994, based on the recommendations of the study, the Supply System board adopted resolutions terminating Nuclear Projects 1 and 3. Preservation funding was to be continued through January 1995 while the Supply System evaluated alternative uses for and to facilitate the marketing of the projects. Since that date, the Supply System has been planning for the demolition of the projects and restoration of the sites Funding has continued for the administrative activities associated with termination and planning for restoration/demolition for both the 3 and 1 projects.

In March 1995, the Supply System submitted a Site Restoration Plan to EFSEC pursuant to the Council's site restoration regulations for terminated projects. On June 12, 1995, the Council approved the Supply System's Plan for restoration of the 1, 3, 4, and 5 project sites. The plan focused on the Satsop Site and plans to remove the assets, and restore the site by demolition, burial, entombment, or other techniques that would minimize damage to the environment and hazard to the public. The Supply System proposed to use the Satsop restoration experience as a model for future restoration at the 1 and 4 sites. In conditionally approving the Supply System's plan, the Council recognized that there was uncertainty in how the plan would be implemented, and therefore reserved the opportunity to conduct additional reviews once the details of the plan(s) were finalized.(Under the termination agreements, BPA would continue to pay for the administrative expenses of maintaining the plan and restoration activities at the net-billed 3 and 1 projects; however, those projects would have no legal obligation to pay for 4 and 5.)

Also affecting the future of the Satsop Site, is a plan developed by Grays Harbor County interests to use the site for economic development purposes. During 1995, a group of county agencies formed the Satsop Redevelopment Project to examine the potential for economic and industrial business opportunities at the site. The group was instrumental in getting legislation passed in 1996 that would enable local governments and the Supply System to negotiate an arrangement allowing the locals to assume an interest in the site for economic development by transferring ownership of all or a portion of the site to local government entities. The legislation also provides for local government to assume regulatory responsibilities for site restoration requirements and control of water rights.

Since the adoption of the legislation, the county has completed studies on possible reuse or development of the site and entered into discussions with the Supply System (and BPA) about possible alternative uses for the site. The Supply System has advised the Council that they have reached an agreement in principle to transfer the site to Grays Harbor County.

During this time the Supply System also applied for, and was issued a Site Certification Agreement, to construct and operate a two-unit combustion turbine project at the Satsop Site. The project (one-unit) was selected as one of three combustion turbine power plants to be developed (designed and permitted) and held as an "option" under BPA's Resource Contingency Program. While there are no assurances that either unit will be needed, the SCA and associated permits are good for a ten-year period.

WNP-5: Construction began in 1977. As noted above in the discussion of WNP-4, based on the Supply System's review of costs required to complete the five projects under construction, and problems faced by the Supply System and participants in finding financing to continue work on 4 and 5, on May 29, 1981, the Supply System board accepted a recommendation by Managing Director Bob Ferguson to begin a six-month construction slowdown at the two projects. When efforts to come up with a funding plan for a two-year "mothball" period failed, on January 22, 1982 the Supply System board terminated Project 5 (and 4) when it was 16% complete.

In 1996, the state legislature approved the transfer of the Satsop Site to the Grays Harbor Public Development Authority. Recently the Satsop Site has under gone industrial development, however the unfinished nuclear power plant structures have not been removed.

WNP-3/5 SCA Amendment

On June 25, 1998, Energy Northwest filed a request with the Council to amend its SCA for the Satsop Power Plant site. The existing SCA authorizes construction and operation of two nuclear power plants (WNP-3 and WNP-5) and a combustion turbine (Satsop Combustion Turbine Project). The purpose of the requested amendment is to remove the authorization for the two nuclear power plants from the agreement. The remaining agreement would continue to authorize the operation and construction of the combustion turbine project with an associated natural gas pipeline. The Council held a public hearing and received comments on the proposed amendment. After review of the request, and of ensuing comments, Council submitted a recommendation to the Governor in Order 731.

Council Order No. 731: Order Recommending Governor's Approval of Amendment of Site Certification Agreement for Satsop Power Plant Site. April 20, 1999.

On April 30, 1999, Wildlife Forever of Grays Harbor requested reconsideration of the Council's Order No. 731 and a stay of the order until its lawsuit, Wildlife Forever v. Washington Public Power Supply System (Thurston County Superior Court No. 99-2-00620-5), is decided. Council sent notice to interested persons and provided an opportunity to comment on Wildlife Forever's motions. After review of the comments received the Council reaffirmed its earlier order and denied the requested stay in Order 735.

Council Order No. 735: Order on Reconsideration Reaffirming Order 731 and Denying Stay (doc) (pdf) - June 11, 1999

The Satsop SCA Amendment No. 3 removing the nuclear power plants from the agreement was approved and signed by Governor Locke on August 12, 1999. The Satsop SCA now only refers to the natural gas-fired Satsop Combustion Turbine Project. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council no longer has any regulatory authority over the WNP-3/5 infrastructure at the Satsop Site.

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