Luminant suspends work on new nuclear plant licenses

A Luminant Generation spokesperson confirmed Nov. 11 that the Texas company is suspending its pursuit of a combined construction and operating license (COL) for two new nuclear reactor units at the Comanche Peak station.

Luminant is a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings (EFH) which is a competitive power generation business. The parent has been trying to avert bankruptcy reorganization by negotiating agreements with its creditors.

Luminant had originally filed the application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in September 2008. While development of Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4 was not considered imminent anyway, Luminant said it was suspending its efforts in part because of changing priorities at vendor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

Power prices in the Texas market are also a consideration, Luminant said. MHI has been developing the advanced reactor design for the site.

“Due to Mitsubishi’s focus on supporting the restart of nuclear units in Japan, they are necessarily reprioritizing critical resources away from new development efforts and towards restarting these units,” Luminant said in a statement emailed to GenerationHub.

“Accordingly, MHI has informed us that they will materially slow the development of their Design Control Document for their new reactor design (US-APWR) by several years. In addition, both MHI and Luminant understand the current economic reality of low Texas power prices driven in large part by the boom in natural gas,” Luminant said.

 “As a result, Luminant is suspending work on the Comanche Peak 3 & 4 COL because of its reliance on the design certification. Luminant understands Mitsubishi’s decision to reprioritize their resources and their need for nuclear engineering expertise to support their domestic power requirements for restarts.  However it is also prudent to suspend our efforts until more progress can be made on the design control document,” Luminant said. 

Luminant will reevaluate this decision as conditions change, the company said.

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.