Ameren studies small nuclear reactor for Callaway

A recent deal to help support Westinghouse Electric technology opens the door for Ameren (NYSE: AEE) to develop a small modular reactor at its Callaway nuclear plant in Missouri.

Ameren CEO Thomas Voss said during a May 4 earnings call that Westinghouse and Ameren could submit a federal grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy this month for a small nuclear reactor.

Ameren had said in an April news release that it would support Westinghouse’s DOE application for up to $452m in small reactor funding. DOE announced that it has available funding a couple of months ago and could actually issue an award this summer.

Westinghouse is developing a 200-MW integral pressurized water reactor model with all the primary components located inside the reactor vessel. It uses passive safety systems akin to those found in the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor design, according to a company fact sheet.

Ameren and Westinghouse would subsequently file a combined construction and operating license (COL) application for a small reactor with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The company needs to look at various generation options given the uncertainties facing its aging coal fleet, Voss said. “As a result, we announced just a couple weeks ago that Ameren Missouri has entered into agreement with Westinghouse Electric Company, a world leader in nuclear technology and development,” Voss said.

There’s also a potentially big economic upside for Missouri, Voss said. “Missouri could ultimately become the hub for the design, development and manufacture of American-made small modular nuclear reactors. Our alliance with Westinghouse has broad statewide support, including every electric utility provider in the state, Governor [Jay] Nixon, a bipartisan group of federal and state legislative leaders, labor, businesses, universities and others.”

Even if Ameren receives a NRC license for the small reactor, it does not obligate Ameren to build a new nuclear facility, Voss said.

Small modular reactors have been touted as a means for companies to provide non-emitting baseload generation without the multi-billion-dollar price tag often associated with a 1,000-MW or larger nuclear plant.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.