UniStar Nuclear Energy has formally selected Constellation Energy's Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant in New York State as the site for a potential US Evolutionary Power Reactor (US EPR), and has notified the US regulator of its intention to submit a combined construction and operating licence (COL) application in late 2008.
The company has not yet made a final decision on whether to build a new reactor at the site, which is already home to two boiling water reactors (BWRs). According to Michael J Wallace, UniStar chairman and executive vice president of Constellation Energy, the notification to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is an important step in the UniStar's plans to develop Nine Mile Point as a potential site for one of four advanced reactors it plans to build in the USA. "We have not made a final decision to construct a new reactor but we are moving ahead systematically in both Maryland and New York, and will make any decisions on where construction might take place based upon many factors," he said. He noted that New York officials have been extremely supportive of the proposed 1600 MWe reactor.
The company submitted a partial COL application for its "reference" plant, a US EPR to be built alongside Constellation's two PWR units at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, in July 2007. The company plans to submit the remainder of the application in March 2008, and earlier this month signed a contract with reactor manufacturer Areva to begin initial detailed design engineering on the plant. UniStar also has agreements in place with turbine manufacturer Alstom for the turbine generator systems for the first four US EPRs.
According to Wallace, UniStar hopes to be in a position to decide on breaking ground for the new reactor at Calvert Cliffs at the end of 2008, depending on the outcome of issues including economics and loan guarantees.
A COL provides authorization from the NRC to construct and operate a nuclear power plant at a specific site. Before issuing a COL, NRC staff undertake extensive safety and environmental reviews of the applications. All stakeholders, including the public, are given the chance to participate in the regulatory process. The NRC is currently considering COLs for five sites and expects to receive a total of 15 more, covering 22 new units, during 2008.
UniStar is a strategic joint venture between Constellation Energy and the EDF Group. It is also working with other companies to develop potential US EPRs in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Idaho and Texas.