The US Department of Energy has been seeking proposals from companies interested in conducting a six-month, $700,000 study of potential sites for deployment of new nuclear power plants in the United States.

The DoE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, which issued the request for proposals, wants the winning bidder, or bidders, to evaluate and identify the activities, schedule and resources required to apply for an “Early Site Permit” (ESP) application from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

All applications must specify potential reactor sites. Some utilities have already embarked on investigations into potential sites for an ESP.

The DoE has not placed any limitations on what types of sites may be studied. However, any bidder must have partnered with the management and operating contractor at that site before submitting an application.

According to Nuclear Energy Institute projections, Dominion, Exelon and Entergy are all expected to decide by the fourth quarter of 2001 whether to seek an ESP. These utilities are currently undertaking feasibility studies of their properties as potential sites for new reactors.