Blow for PBMR

3 May 2002

Exelon has withdrawn from the PBMR project. Exelon said that following a review of its investments, it had decided to concentrate on its core business of generation, transmission and distribution, with nuclear energy no longer a focus.

Exelon had previously had plans to buy 40 PBMRs if the project received the go-ahead from the US government.

The review is understood to follow key management changes at Exelon, which saw chairman and joint CEO Corbin McNeill, a proponent of nuclear power in the USA, resigning. Exelon said: "The company continues to believe that the PBMR technology has the potential to be viable and successful. It would remain part of the project until the feasibility study was completed, due later this year." Other investors in the project, notably BNFL, which has 22.5%, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) with 25%, will remain part of the project. Eskom, which has 30% of the scheme and has been the driving force behind it, pledged its continued support for the scheme. Eskom executive director Steve Lennon said that while Exelon's decision was disappointing, it was not a reflection on the PBMR, and Eskom remained confident about the project.

Dave Nicholls, CE of the PBMR company, said that while Exelon's decision was regrettable, it was based on a shift of focus by the group rather than any concerns about the feasibility of the PBMR. "In terms of the process, Exelon's decision has not affected us at all, and we are moving swiftly ahead." Nicholls said a replacement investor was being sought, and talks were in the pipeline with several international players which had expressed interest in the technology.

Janine Claber, media affairs manager at BNFL, said the company would continue to be part of the project. Once the feasibility stage was completed, the board would make a final decision on its continued involvement, as originally planned. "Clearly Exelon's decision is disappointing, but it has not changed our view that the project has enormous potential."

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