Continued delays in restarting Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station could lead to a downgrade of the Omaha Public Power District's credit rating.
The Moody's ratings firm said this week it was reviewing the district's Aa1 senior and Aa2 subordinate ratings because of uncertainty at the troubled power plant, which is under federal regulation and has been offline for more than two years.
Inspectors from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been working their way through a checklist of safety improvements at the plant, but OPPD has not yet satisfied all the requirements. After several target dates for restarting the reactor have come and gone, OPPD is now projecting it will be online by summer.
In a press release, Moody's pointed to the delays as “indicative of the additional NRC scrutiny” and noted that OPPD is headed into its third summer without power from the plant. Moody's said it would study the financial impact of that.
Jeff Hanson, an OPPD spokesman, said the district would still be among the highest-rated public power utilities even with a downgrade. But he said officials expect to make progress that could help keep the credit ratings steady.
“Any ratings changes are unlikely to happen in the next month, so that gives OPPD more time to make more progress toward restarting Fort Calhoun Station,” he said.
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