Several companies keeping their nuclear option open

Much has been reported about the five reactor units scheduled to come online within the next five years, but there are also a second tier of companies that are still keeping their ‘nuclear options’ open with combined construction and operating license (COL) applications on file with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Five nuclear power units are now under construction in the United States. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is expected to bring the 1,100-MW Watts Bar 2 facility in Tennessee online by the end of 2015. In addition, the Southern (NYSE:SO)-led Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia and the SCANA (NYSE:SCG) V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 are all currently expected to be in commercial operation by the end of 2019.

Then there is a second, larger tier of potential new nuclear construction. While not close to deployment, the companies involved are seeking government licenses in the event that market conditions should become favorable for more nuclear generation.

Most of this proposed second tier of new nuclear plant construction filed applications with NRC before 2010 – prior to both the Fukushima accident in Japan and the ongoing domestic boom in cheap natural gas.

NRC still reviewing many nuclear plant applications

NRC decisions on whether to approve or deny these plant applications are not imminent. Any potential construction would start even further into the future.

** The PPL (NYSE:PPL) application for the Bell Bend nuclear project in Pennsylvania remains under review by NRC. First filed in October 2008, PPL has proposed to build an AREVA U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) at a new site adjacent to PPL’s Susquehanna station in Luzerne County, Pa.

In a letter dated June 26, PPL has requested that NRC withhold its review of the emergency plan for Bell Bend until late 2015.

** UniStar Nuclear Operating Services filed an application in July 2007 for the Calvert Cliffs 3 project in Maryland. UniStar, which was a joint venture between France-based EDF Group and Constellation Energy, had sought to develop an EPR at the site next to Calvert Cliffs Units 1 and 2.

The Calvert Cliffs 3 process has bogged down in part due to issues surrounding the degree of foreign ownership involved. A final environmental impact statement was issued to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May 2011. NRC has not yet completed its safety evaluation review however and the agency’s online schedule lists no anticipated date for its issuance.

** DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) filed an application for the Fermi 3 nuclear project in September 2008. DTE has sought to license an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at the Fermi 2 site in Michigan.

DTE has incorporated the General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) ESBWR design application into its submittal. DTE filed its last paperwork with NRC in February.

** Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) predecessor Progress Energy Florida filed a COL application for two new reactors at the Levy County site in Florida in July 2008. The company has filed an application to develop two Westinghouse Electric AP 1000 reactors. These are the same type of units being installed at Vogtle and Summer.

The Florida Public Service Commission recently ordered customers of the Duke utility to receive a $54m credit for equipment that was never received for the Levy nuclear plant.

In April 2014, NRC issued a letter revising the review schedule for the Levy project. The revised schedule calls for issuance of a final safety evaluation report (FSER) in March 2015.

** Dominion (NYSE:D) filed a COL license application in November 2007 for a third unit at the North Anna station in Virginia. Dominion has filed an application for an ESBWR for North Anna 3.

In June 2010, Dominion revised its application to change its reactor technology design to a U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR) design. But then in July 2013 Dominion revised its application to revert back to the ESBWR for North Anna 3, according to the NRC web site.

** STP Nuclear Operating Co., which is led by NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) and Nuclear Innovation North America, filed a COL application for South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 in September 2007. STP has sought to license two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) at the site in Matagorda County, Texas.

Commercial development of the project seemed to have much momentum for a while, prior to bogging down in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

The NRC has raised questions about the degree of foreign ownership likely to be involved in South Texas Units 3 and 4. The NRC’s latest review schedule anticipates that the final safety evaluation report could be issued in the fall of 2015.

** NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) filed a COL application for Turkey Point Units 6 and 7 in Florida in June 2009. The company has sought to license two new AP 1000 reactors at the Turkey Point station.

The NRC online schedule currently contemplates issuance of a final environmental impact statement for the project in early 2016.

** Duke Energy filed a COL application for the William States Lee III Units 1 and 2 in December 2012. The proposed new nuclear units would be located at a site in Cherokee County, S.C.

The application was filed for two AP 1000 reactor units. NRC issued a final EIS on the proposed nuclear units in December 2013. The NRC schedule currently targets a mandatory hearing on the application in the first half of 2016.

While it has not filed an application with NRC yet, a proposed plan for a merchant nuclear plant in southern Utah by Blue Castle Holdings continues to seek water rights and other state and local approvals.

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.