Submission for new nuclear at Harris

19 February 2008

An application to build two new nuclear power reactors is to be made today by Progress Energy. The company wants to build two AP1000 units to "secure the region's energy future."


Harris (Image: Progress Energy)

Two Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors could be built at Harris under the Progress Energy's plan. They would each generate 1100 MWe for Progress's largest concentration of customers, in and around North Carolina, USA. Progress is to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a combined construction and operating license for the units today.


The Harris site hosts one power reactor already, but was originally planned to have four. The site has good connections to the grid, good availability of water for cooling and over 9000 hectares of unused land.


"We need to
  prepare for ten,
  20, 30 years
  out. The best
  option right now
  is advanced
Upon submission, the NRC would begin the process of reviewing the application, referring to its existing design certification for the AP1000 design. This process would be expected to take about 36 months. Progress said that any decision to build is "still more than a year away," and that it was taking steps now to keep the option for nuclear available in the future. The first of any new reactors would only be operational in about 2018.


In May 2007 Progress decided to put development of more nuclear power in North Carolina on hold, instead concentrating on a $50 million energy efficiency drive, saying "reductions in future electricity demand growth through energy efficiency could push the need for new power plants farther into the future." At that time, the company advised the NRC that today's COL application would be put back from the original scheduled window in late 2007.


Although Progress has doubled its efficiency goals since the May 2007 announcement to a saving of 2000 MWe, it now asserts that nuclear power is "critical to controlling climate change." A statement quoted CEO Bill Johnson: "The overall demand for electricity is not going to decrease in our fast-growing part of the country and, as a utility, we have an obligation to meet that growing demand." Johnson told editors of The News & Observer: "We need to prepare for ten, 20, 30 years out. The best option right now is advanced nuclear."


Progress Energy could also build new nuclear power plants in Florida, according to plans under development. A site in Levy County, 13 km north of the existing Crystal River power plant, could also play host to two AP1000s.