Columbus, Neb. - Cooper Nuclear Station, located in the southeast corner of the state, quietly churns out electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, generating low-cost, reliable, non-carbon emitting electricity for customers of Nebraska Public Power District.
But there is another side of Cooper just as quiet and just as powerful as the 820 megawatts of electricity the plant produces. That is, its role as an economic engine for southeast Nebraska and the state. A recent economic study conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) concludes that Cooper’s operations provide a significant economic stimulus for five counties in southeast Nebraska, resulting in $112 million in statewide economic output annually.
“We know Cooper Nuclear Station provides around-the-clock power our customers expect,” said CEO and President Pat Pope. “But it’s important the public know the economic benefit and jobs it contributes to this part of the state.”
The NEI analysis found that Cooper annually generates more than $112 million in economic output, which includes more than $66 million in economic output for the five Nebraska counties surrounding the plant, and more than $46 million for the rest of the state. Besides the tens of millions benefitting Cass, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe and Richardson counties, the study estimates a $63 million increase in gross state product and $70 million in disposable personal income. While there are significant economic benefits to other states, particularly in nearby Missouri and Iowa, the study focused on Nebraska.
Cooper also benefits the remainder of the state with an estimated $46 million in economic output from plant operations, $26 million in gross state product, and $32 million in disposable personal income.
The study also found that between 2018 and 2034 (which is the current license expiration date); Cooper’s operations will generate more than $1.9 billion in economic output for Nebraska, including $1.2 billion to those five counties and an additional $675 million in the rest of Nebraska.
Cooper employs 680 individuals, with 550 living in Nebraska, with annual payroll and benefits among to $76 million for permanent employees and contractors. Those jobs stimulate over 450 additional jobs in the area and Nebraska, according to the study.
As a generator of carbon-free electricity, Cooper has operated at more than 93 percent of its capacity over the past five years, which is on par with the industry average and significantly higher than other forms of generation. “This reliable production our customers receive helps offset potential price volatility of other energy resources and the intermittency of renewable electricity sources,” Pope pointed out.
At capacity, CNS could provide power to over 385,000 Nebraskans, and in 2017, Cooper set a generation record of more than 6.9 million megawatt hours of electricity.
Last fall, a Plant Neighbor Survey determined there is strong local support for Cooper from local residents, as well. Of those surveyed, 92 percent of Cooper’s neighbors have a favorable impression of the plant and its operations, and 94 percent were confidant in NPPD’s ability to operate a nuclear power plant safely.
Copy of the NEI study can be found at https://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Reports-And-Studies/Economic-Impacts-of-the-Cooper-Nuclear-Station