Nine Mile Point COL lodged

02 October 2008

Unistar Nuclear Energy has submitted a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for a new nuclear power reactor at its Nine Mile Point plant in New York state.


Nine Mile Point 3 (Unistar) 
How Nine Mile Point would look with the
addition of unit 3 (Image: Unistar)
Unistar, a joint venture of Constellation Energy and Electricité de France's EDF Group, is seeking approval for an Areva-designed 1600 MWe EPR unit which would be built at a site on the shores of Lake Ontario, already home to two boiling water reactors. In addition to Nine Mile Point unit 3, Unistar is working on three other EPR projects: Calvert Cliffs 3 in Maryland, Callaway 2 in Missouri and Bell Bend in Pennsylvania. COL applications have already been submitted for Calvert Cliffs and Callaway, while Unistar says it plans to submit the application for Bell Bend before the end of 2008.


Unistar president and chief executive officer George Vanderheyden described the US version of the EPR as "the safest, most secure technology available." Two EPRs are under construction in Europe, at Olkiluoto in Finland and at Flamanville in France. However, in common with other COL applicants, Vanderheyden stressed that the company had not yet committed to building the unit. No final decision will be made until Unistar's expectations for safety, cost, regulatory stability and bipartisan federal, state and local support are been met, he said.


The Nine Mile Point COL application is the 25th to be submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the review process is expected to take between 36 and 42 months.


Merger draws nearer


Days before the COL application, Constellation Energy and MidAmerican Energy Holdings confirmed that their proposed merger, announced earlier in September, is proceeding on track. "We expect to complete our due diligence within the 14-day period, and based on information reviewed to date, we have not identified any issues," said MidAmerican Energy Holdings president and CEO Greg Abel.


MidAmerican Energy Holdings moved in on Constellation when its share value dipped dramatically in mid September, apparently because of liquidity concerns centred on Constellation's energy trading division, which is the largest in the USA. Electricité de France (EdF), already owner of 9.5% of Constellation, submitted a counter bid that valued the business higher, but Constellation and MidAmerican's commitment to their deal continues.


Constellation owns 83 electricity generating plants across the USA, with a combined generating capacity of some 9000 MWe. Five nuclear reactors at three sites provide over 60% of its generating output. MidAmerican Energy Holdings boasts 20,000 MWe of capacity including owned and contracted capacity in operation as well as under construction and "advanced development".