Combined construction and operating licence (COL) applications for three GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) ESBWR reactors and two Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) US-APWR reactors were submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in September.
The first COL application for the 1700MWe US-APWR design was filed on 19 September, for two units at Luminant’s Comanche Peak nuclear plant near Glen Rose, Texas. On the same day, Luminant (formerly TXU) and MHI announced they had entered into an agreement to form a joint venture to advance the development of the two potential new nuclear reactors. Under the terms of the joint venture agreement, Luminant would retain an 88% ownership share and MHI a 12% stake. The joint venture is expected to continue development of the COL application and fund project development costs during the period preceding issuance of the COL. The joint venture’s closing is currently anticipated to occur before the end of the year.
Luminant and MHI said they would seek support for financing from the US and Japanese governments and that a loan guarantee application form has already been submitted to the US Department of Energy. In December 2007, MHI submitted an application to have the US-APWR design certified by the NRC.
Meanwhile, Exelon announced on 3 September that it has submitted a COL application for a new dual-unit nuclear generating facility in Victoria County, Texas. Exelon has previously signed an agreement with GEH to procure long-lead items.
In a statement, Exelon said that a final decision on the plant will be based on a number of factors, including public acceptance, NRC approval of the licence application, assurances that a new nuclear plant can be financially successful, and whether the government has made significant progress toward resolving questions around storage or recycling used nuclear fuel. A decision on the licence is not expected before 2012
On 18 September, Detroit Edison, Michigan’s largest electric utility, submitted a COL application for a single ESBWR at its Fermi site on the shore of Lake Erie, 35 miles south of Detroit.
With these latest COL applications, the NRC has now received applications for 23 new nuclear units at 14 sites.
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