DTE won’t break ground on Fermi 3 unit anytime soon

Just because DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) is getting a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license to build and operate a new reactor, don’t expect a groundbreaking ceremony for Fermi 3 anytime soon.

“We don’t have a date. We don’t have a timetable,” DTE nuclear spokesman Guy Cerullo told GenerationHub on April 30. In fact, any new nuclear construction at the Michigan-based energy company is far enough into the future that DTE cannot offer a meaningful cost estimate, the spokesman said.

DTE said April 30 that it has received NRC approval for a combined construction and operating (COL) license for a new nuclear energy facility on the site of the existing Fermi 2 nuclear plant in Newport, Mich.

DTE has said it plans to hold the license for potential future power generation. The power company has not filed a timeline for development in anything akin to an integrated resource plan, the spokesman said.

The organization, Beyond Nuclear, and other groups oppose the NRC and have promised to appeal in it federal court.

 “Now that all administrative remedies have been exhausted at NRC, we will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on multiple environmental and safety-related fronts,” said Terry Lodge, a Toledo-based attorney for the Fermi 3 foes.

In September 2008, utility Detroit Edison (now DTE Electric) filed a new nuclear plant application with NRC.  The proposed new plant would use the General Electric-Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) technology.

The Fermi campus includes 1,250 acres, according to a DTE website.

The site still contains some buildings from Unit 1 of the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant. Fermi 1 was a fast breeder reactor power plant cooled by sodium. It was the site of a 1965 accident where “two subassemblies started to melt. Radiation monitors alarmed and the operators manually shut down the reactor. No abnormal releases to the environment occurred,” according to an NRC website.

Although Fermi 1 was restarted less than four years later, the plant operator decided to decommission Fermi 1 in 1972.

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.