Licence renewal for US South Texas Project

3 October 2017

South Texas ProjectCorrected: A previous version of this article stated that design certification of the GE Hitachi ABWR design was "delayed, not scheduled." The design certification is currently scheduled, according to August data from the NRC.  

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the licence for the South Texas Project, a nuclear power plant near Bay City, for an additional 20 years.

The plant is managed by the STP Nuclear Operating Co and owned by Houston- and New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc, San Antonio-based CPS Energy and Austin-based Austin Energy. Its two units, both 1280MWe Westinghouse pressurised water reactors, began commercial operation in 1988 and 1989 after significant construction delays.

The application for a licence renewal was filed in October 2010. The existing 40-year operating licences for South Texas 1&2 were set to expire in 2027 and 2028, but the units are now cleared to operate until 2047 and 2048.

The South Texas Project employs 1200 people and is one of the newest and largest nuclear generating facilities in the USA. NRC officials granted the South Texas Project a construction and operating licence (COL) in February 2016 to add two more units at the site, both advanced boiling water reactors. Both the Toshiba and the GE Hitachi versions of the ABWR needed to have their design certification renewed from 2012. Toshiba withdrew its design certification renewal application in mid-2016, but certification of the GE Hitachi version is still scheduled. 

Cheap natural gas has made building a new nuclear plant uneconomical at present, but South Texas plant operators told the San Antonio Business Journal that they would hold on to the licence and build them when market conditions are right.

Photo: South Texas Project (Credit: STPNOC)

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