Progress Energy has announced its interest in building new nuclear power plants at its Shearon Harris site in North Carolina. Westinghouse’s AP1000 has been selected as the design for the potential new build.

The Harris site was chosen from several sites in North and South Carolina because of its available transmission lines and proximity to the company’s largest area of customer concentration. A 950MWe PWR is already located at Harris, but the site was originally meant to host up to four units and has about 22,000 acres (8900ha) of available space as well as a good water supply.

Progress intends to submit two dual-unit combined construction and operating licence (COL) applications to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2008. This recent announcement makes clear that one will be based on AP1000 deployment at Harris, the other will feature an as-yet undisclosed site in Florida. Garry Miller, Progress’s manager for COL applications, has previously said that the same basic plant design would be used for both applications to gain as much as possible from standardisation.

According to company statements, it would take about 24 months to complete the COL application for the Harris project. And after submission, the NRC could take another 36 months for review, putting the earliest possible date for breaking ground on the new units in the 2010-11 timeframe. All that, of course, assumes that economic conditions for Progress do not change radically, and the ten-month process of obtaining the required certificate of public convenience from the North Carolina Utilities Commission goes smoothly.

Chair and CEO of Progress, Bob McGeehee, said: “While we still need to determine exactly where nuclear expansion fits in our plans to meet our region’s growing energy needs, there is no question the country needs to move forward with new nuclear generation to address fuel price volatility and concerns about global warming.”

Meanwhile, Tulsa-based Enercon Services, a diversified energy consulting company, has been awarded a contract by Duke Power to prepare a COL application for an AP1000 at a site to be determined later. Duke Power announced in October that it would pursue a COL for two AP1000s.

The project will be executed by a team of companies led by Enercon, and includes site specific tasks such as engineering for cooling water systems and transmission and distribution, environmental report preparation and site geotechnical studies.

Enercon president John Richardson said: “Completing such an important project which will help demonstrate the long-term viability of the nuclear power industry.”