MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2010, 11:03 A.M.

Energy Northwest joins nuclear waste lawsuit

Energy Northwest has joined other utilities in a lawsuit challenging continued imposition of a surcharge on electricity generated from nuclear power plants.

The operator of the Columbia Generating Station and other plaintiffs want the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to stop U.S. Department of Energy collection of a one-tenth-cent fee on every kilowatt-hour of power.

The suit claims the department is violating the 1982 law that established the fee because an annual “adequacy” review has not accounted for termination of work on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

Energy Northwest spokeswoman Rochelle Olson said the fee has cost Washington ratepayers almost $290 million since its reactor near Richland went into service in 1984.

The Nuclear Waste Fund has a balance of $24 billion.

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