NuStart Energy Development, a consortium of nine companies operating 58% of the USA’s nuclear power plants, has signed a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy (DoE) to test the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) streamlined process to obtain the joint construction and operating licence (COL) required for the construction of a new nuclear reactor.

Both Westinghouse and GE Energy, who are members of the NuStart consortium, have signed sub-agreements with NuStart associated with engineering- and licensing-related work on their reactor designs. Westinghouse has put forward its AP1000 design, and GE its ESBWR.

The DoE award to NuStart is expected to result in several hundred million dollars of funding over the next several years which will be matched by the NuStart consortium.

NuStart currently plans to submit a COL application in 2008. It would be the first licence application for a new nuclear plant in the USA under the NRC’s new licensing process. NuStart plans to select two sites by October.