The number is still small, and not enough to offset the anticipated reactor retirements, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued several new “combined” licenses to construct and operate new nuclear plants in recent years.
The latest came Dec. 21 when NRC announced a construction and operation license (COL) for the Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) William States Lee III site in South Carolina.
Duke had submitted the application for this dual-reactor 2,200-MW nuclear complex in Cherokee County, South Carolina in December 2007.
Like most nuclear operators, Duke isn’t actually looking to break ground on a new multi-billion-dollar nuclear plant anytime soon, especially given the availability of cheap natural gas. But Duke and some other utilities are looking to keep the nuclear option on the table.
- Prior to the Duke announcement there were four licensees with combined licenses. Two combined licenses were issued to Southern (NYSE:SO) and its financial partners in February 2012 for Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 3 and 4 in Georgia, which are currently under construction.
- Two combined licenses were issued to SCANA (NYSE:SCG) utility South Carolina Electric & Gas and its financial partner (Santee Cooper) in March 2012 for Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station Units 2 and 3, which are currently under construction.
- One combined license was issued to DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) on May 1, 2015, for the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant Unit 3 in Michigan. No date set for possible construction.
- Two combined licenses were issued to South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co. in February 12, 2016 for South Texas Project Units 3 and 4. No date set for possible construction.
- It should be noted that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 2 reactivation project was being constructed pursuant to 10 CFR Part 50, which requires separate approvals for construction and operation. Watts Bar 2 entered commercial operation in October.