Group to work on small nuclear reactors

PITTSBURGH, May 17, 2012 — Westinghouse Electric Company and the Missouri Electric Alliance led by Ameren Missouri today announced the formation of a utility participation group called the NexStart SMR Alliance.

The Alliance is a consortium of current and prospective nuclear plant owners and operators and includes cooperative, municipal and investor-owned electric service providers, as well as public enterprises to advance energy security.  Alliance members signed a Memorandum of Understanding that recognizes the importance of advancing nuclear energy in helping secure clean, safe and reliable electricity in the future by deploying the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

The initial membership of the NexStart SMR Alliance includes Ameren Missouri, Exelon Generation Company, Dominion Virginia Power, FirstEnergy Generation, Tampa Electric Company, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, Savannah River National Laboratory, and members of the Missouri Alliance: Missouri Public Utility Alliance; Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Inc.; The Empire District Electric Company; and Kansas City Power and Light Company.  Westinghouse and Alliance members are also in discussions with other utilities and enterprises considering NexStart SMR Alliance membership in order to support the potential deployment of a Westinghouse SMR at Ameren’s Callaway Energy Center in central Missouri.

The NexStart SMR Alliance will collaborate in supporting Westinghouse in its application to secure Department of Energy (DOE) SMR investment funds that will be awarded to promising SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and achieve commercial operation by 2022.  These cost-share agreements will span a five-year period and, subject to Congressional appropriations, provide a total investment of approximately $900 million, with at least 50 percent provided by private industry.  The investment fund application will be submitted to the DOE by mid-May, and a final decision on awarding the investment funds by the DOE is expected in late summer of 2012.

John Goossen, Westinghouse vice president of Innovation and SMR Development and NexStart SMR Alliance co-chair, said the group is collaborating on a strategy that will lead to Design Certification (DC) for the Westinghouse SMR and the issuance of a combined construction and operating license (COL) for a Westinghouse SMR at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center to commence operation by 2022.  “Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri have an unmatched commitment to achieving the objectives set out in the DOE’s funding opportunity announcement.  If there is a stronger application team with stronger corporate histories, financial foundations, and operational excellence, I would be very surprised.  Our companies represent energy industry leaders with the strongest backing from NexStart members, the state of Missouri, labor unions, elected and university officials, and a host of economic development, business and industry leaders who want to back the team with the best capabilities,” said Goossen.

Scott Bond, manager of Nuclear Development at Ameren Missouri and NexStart SMR Alliance co-chair, said of the announcement:  “This alliance will be key in helping to secure funding to build the first SMR at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center.  Callaway has an excellent operational record and the highest ratings for safety and security offered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  We have been doing business with Westinghouse for more than half a century and we believe in their capabilities to deliver on the DOE’s challenge.  We understand the potential for Missouri to become the global hub for an American-made SMR and we are pleased to be a part of this important energy and economic advancement.”

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor (PWR), with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel.  It utilizes passive safety systems and proven components, as well as modular construction techniques – all realized and already licensed in the nuclear industry-leading AP1000®  nuclear power plant design – to achieve the highest level of safety and reduced number of components required.  Westinghouse believes that this proven approach will provide licensing, construction and operational certainty that no other SMR supplier can match with competitive economics.

Marilyn Kray, Exelon’s vice president of Nuclear Project Development, and member of the NexStart SMR Alliance said: “The Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant design being built in the U.S. are the direct result of DOE investment in American companies to benefit public energy policy objectives.  This opportunity to join together to leverage previous federal investment in Westinghouse’s licensed passive safety system, but for a smaller sized reactor, has tremendous potential to produce another advancement in U.S. nuclear energy technology leadership.”  Ms. Kray led NuStart Energy Development, LLC, a successful Nuclear Power 2010 effort that successfully utilized DOE cost-shared funds to produce rapid licensing of the larger AP1000 plant design.

The Westinghouse SMR is the company’s next product innovation building upon the concepts and advances in technology achieved in the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant design, the first and only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. NRC, initially in 2006 and again in 2011.  Currently, four AP1000 units are being built in China with the first unit expected to come online in 2013, and another four AP1000 units are being built in the United States, the first unit of which is expected to come online in 2016.