Duke briefs NRC on William States Lee nuclear plant application

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) briefed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Oct. 5 on its proposed two-unit William States Lee III Nuclear Station in Cherokee County, South Carolina.

The meeting was held at NRC headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. Briefing materials, including slides, submitted by Duke and NRC staff were posted on the NRC webpages.

Back in December 2007, Duke Energy Carolinas submitted a combined construction and operating license (COL) application to develop the Lee 1 and Lee 2 nuclear units using the Westinghouse Electric AP 1000 reactor design.

The two units together would have a generating capacity of more than 2,200 MW.

The company has moved very slowly on the licensing process given the adverse market conditions facing any new multi-billion-dollar nuclear project. NRC published a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Lee project in December 2013.

“Duke Energy has filed a request to have the emergency operations facility (EOF) located in Charlotte, North Carolina. NRC approval is required beforehand, however, because the Charlotte site is more than 25 miles from the reactor site.

NRC staff has approved use of the Charlotte site for emergency operations at Lee.

The Lee Nuclear complex site would be located near the North Carolina border and within easy driving distance of Duke’s existing nuclear plants in North and South Carolina, according to the Duke Energy slide presentation. (Based on the slides that is part of the rationale for a “common” EOF).

Duke currently uses the existing corporate operations center in Charlotte for its McGuire, Catawba and Oconee nuclear stations, according to NRC.

Duke Energy Carolinas currently expects that in 2038 is will get as much of its power from nuclear energy (17%) as it does from coal (17%). Natural gas is expected to provide 46% of Duke’s electric generation in 2038 with 10% coming from hydro and 10% from renewables and demand side management. That’s according to data in Duke’s “base” integrated resource plan.

Part of the William States Lee nuclear plant site was partially developed for the never-completed Cherokee nuclear plant. Duke started building Cherokee in the 1970s, but the project was abandoned in the 1980s.

One interesting side note, various scenes from the 1989 film “The Abyss,” filmed at the Cherokee site.

Infrastructure design for the Lee nuclear plant infrastructure is 90% complete and the “site construction plan” is 70% complete, Duke said in the briefing.

The testimony focused on unique features of the facility or novel issues that arose as part of the review process, as well as other significant technical or policy issues associated with aspects of the staff’s review.

Duke Nuclear Development Vice President Christopher Fallon; Duke Nuclear Licensing Director Robert Kitchen and Siting and Licensing Support Manager Paul Snead were on the agenda for the company.

NRC Office of New Reactors Deputy Director Vonna Ordaz and Division of New Reactor Licensing Director Francis Akstulewicz were among the NRC staff officials to appear at the meeting.

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.