US utility Luminant has suspended its efforts gain a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licence for two US-APWR nuclear reactors at Comanche Peak in North Texas.

The decision to suspend the licensing work follows a shift in focus from reactor vendor Mitsubishi, which has decided to work to secure the restart of reactors in its home country – Japan.

Luminant had been planning to construct two 1700 MW Mitsubishi Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (US-APWRs) at the existing Comanche Peak site, to start-up around 2020.

"It does not make sense to continue to expend Luminant or NRC resources on the combined license application (COLA) review until more progress has been made in reviewing the US-APWR application for certification," Luminant said in a 7 November letter to the NRC.

The design certification for the US-APWR reactor was submitted to NRC in December 2011. The safety evaluation report was due to be completed in September 2015. However, Mitsubishi has informed Luminant of its intent to "materially slow" the development of the US-APWR design control document by "several years."

Luminant said it is suspending work on its Comanche Peak 3 & 4 COL "because of its reliance on the design certification." It also cited the "current economic reality of low Texas power prices driven in large part by the boom in natural gas." Luminant said it will re-evaluate its decision as conditions change.

Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems (MNES) said, 8 November that it is committed to obtaining a NRC design certification for the US-APWR, and will continue the activity under an "extended schedule."

In the meantime, MNES plans to expand its nuclear service and components business for the US operating nuclear fleet. The company said it has found a "growing market" for its water jet peening technology.


Photo: Artist’s rendition of the Comanche Peak 3&4 expansion (Source: Luminant)