NRG Energy and South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC) have filed a combined Construction and Operating Licence (COL) application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build and operate two new nuclear units at the South Texas Project nuclear power station.
South Texas Project (STP) is already home to two pressurised water reactors (PWRs). Units 3 and 4 will be Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) with a total capacity of at least 2700 MWe, according to NRG. The site, in Matagorda County, is considered to be one of the best in America for nuclear expansion, according to NRG. The site itself and its cooling reservoir were originally designed to support four units, and the two new units will be built adjacent to the existing ones.
NRG president and CEO David Crane described the licence application as heralding a new day for energy in America and a new day for the environment. "Advanced nuclear technology is the only currently viable large-scale alternative to traditional coal-fuelled generation to produce none of the traditional air emissions - and most importantly in this age of climate change - no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases," he noted.
The decision to use GE-Hitachi ABWRs reflects NRG's analysis that such units are well proven, four of them having been operating in Japan for up to ten years, and they have full design certification in USA. The design also has excellent credentials for construction time and bringing the units in on budget.
The existing STP plant had the lowest reported production cost for a US nuclear power plant in 2006, at 1.356 cents per kilowatt-hour, as well as the lowest combined operating, maintenance and fuel expenses of the 58 plants that filed their costs with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
It has taken STPNOC, working with a contracting team led by GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Bechtel, just over a year to prepare the COL application since filing its letter of intent. The NRC will now begin an acceptance review process, expected to take about 2 months, before embarking on a detailed review process anticipated to take up to 42 months. NRG says it hopes to receive its licence approval and begin construction in 2010, looking to start up dates of 2014 for unit 3 and 2015 for unit 4.
The NRC received the first part of a COL application for Unistar's Calvert Cliffs unit 3 in July, and anticipates receiving up to seven applications, including the STP application, before the end of 2007.
South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper
WNN: Contractors in flux for South Texas Project
WNN: NRC: First part of COL application in