Exelon's plans for new nuclear build at the Victoria site have been put back. The company is not continuing with its application to build.
By not following through on a combined construction and operating licence (COL) and opting for an early site permit (ESP) instead, Exelon has given itself up to 20 years to finish off the project. "We are not leaving Victoria," said Exelon's Thomas O'Neill, "But today's economic realities compel us to defer any decision on construction for a while."
Under the ESP process, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission undertakes an evaluation of site safety, environmental impact and emergency planning regarding a proposed nuclear plant. By issuing an ESP for a specific site, the NRC is certifying that the site satisfies the criteria in those evaluation areas. If the company later chooses to pursue construction, the ESP becomes part of the COL application, which requires a separate review and approval.
Exelon had originally planned to build two GE-Hitachi ESBWR reactors at the greenfield site, but that design was dropped in November 2008 and swapped for GE-Hitachi's ABWR instead. The application for the COL based on ESBWR was made in September 2008, but today's announcement means Exelon will not be revising it to refer to ABWR instead.
Exelon has told the NRC to expect an ESP application later this year, or early in 2010.