Progress Energy has informed the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it plans to submit a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for a new nuclear power plant.

According to its NRC notification, the company expects to select a potential site and reactor vendor by the end of 2005. A likely option would be to add a reactor at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant south of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Notifying the NRC is a step necessary to obtain a licence should the company decide that a new nuclear unit is the best option for meeting the need for additional generation. The application for the COL could be filed in early 2008 and, if approved by the NRC, construction could begin as early as 2010 with the new plant online around 2015.

C S Hinnant, chief nuclear officer for Progress Energy, said of the move: “We have made it clear that we will keep the option open to build new nuclear generation.”

Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, has more than 24GWe of generation capacity.