FirstEnergy Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding with Babcock & Wilcox subsidiary, Generation mPower, to study the potential for deployment of the B&W mPower small modular reactor.

The companies will work together to perform an independent review of mPower economics and to evaluate several alternative potential sites for construction of the plants. They will also complete a preliminary pre-licensing analysis, and assess the need and timing for prospective deployment of B&W mPower plants in the FirstEnergy generation fleet.

FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) currently operates three nuclear power plants: Beaver Valley 1&2 in Pennsylvania as well as Davis-Besse and Perry in Ohio.

“Our agreement today is an outgrowth of the company’s involvement with B&W’s consortium to promote the development of small modular reactors,” said James H. Lash, president of FirstEnergy Generation and chief nuclear officer.

“Completing these studies will help us determine how B&W small modular reactors may be part of our long term generation planning,” he added.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has also signed a letter of intent with Generation mPower outlining plans for the design, licensing and construction of up to six mPower reactors at the Clinch River site in Roane County, Tennessee, with the first starting-up by 2020.

The mPower reactor is a 180 MWe passively safe advanced pressurized water reactor, with a below ground containment structure. It is to be factory-made and transported to a site by rail, with a construction time of three years. On its launch in the summer of 2009, B&W described the mPower as ‘game-changing,’ saying that it would be cheaper and more flexible than the larger designs currently on offer.