Exelon signs up for American Centrifuge SWU

11 September 2009

Exelon has signed a contract worth nearly $1.2 billion to purchase uranium enrichment from USEC's American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) starting in 2012. 

American Centrifuge from the air (USEC)
The huge contract for the American
Centrifuge plant will be major boost
after the shock denial of a loan
guarantee in July
Exelon president and COO Chris Crane highlighted the importance of the ACP both to his company, as a way of increasing fuel supply diversity, and at a national level to promote energy and national security. "We strongly support the deployment of the American Centrifuge technology and look forward to continuing our long relationship with USEC," he said.

The deal, signed during the World Nuclear Association's Annual Symposium in London, will see the ACP provide SWU - separative work units, the measurement applied to uranium enrichment - for the fuel to power Exelon's fleet of 17 commercial nuclear reactors. According to USEC it now has over $3.4 billion of customer commitments for the output from the new plant. (In March 2009, well in advance of the current deal, USEC was already claiming some $3.3 billion in customer commitments from the US and overseas).

USEC president and CEO John Welch expressed his appreciation for Exelon's support. He went on: "Our customers believe in the American Centrifuge technology and support our efforts to complete the plant.

Earlier this year the US Department of Energy (DoE) rejected an application by USEC for $2 billion in federal loan guarantees for the plant but subsequently granted the company a further six months to address the shortcomings in its application that had led to the rejection. Based on US-designed centrifuge technology, ACP had been scheduled for commercial operation in early 2010, reaching 1 million SWU capacity a year later and its full annual capacity of 3.8 million SWU at the end of 2012, although that timescale was set before the DoE's loan guarantee rejection.

Although ACP will be the only commercial enrichment facility in the country to use US centrifuge technology, a 3 million SWU enrichment plant based on European centrifuges is being built in New Mexico by the Lousiana Energy Services (LES) partnership and is due to start up this year. French company Areva is also planning to build a centrifuge plant of up to 6.6 million SWU in Idaho.