Two COLs for new US nuclear

19 September 2008

Two applications have been submitted to the US nuclear regulator for combined construction and operating licences (COLs) for potential new reactors in Texas and Michigan.

US-APWR design (Image: MHI)
Today, Luminant filed a COL application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for two new reactors at its existing Comanche Peak nuclear power plant site in Texas. The application is the first to reference the 1700 MWe US-Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (US-APWR) reactor design. Luminant selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) US-APWR as its technology of choice in March 2007.

In a further development, Luminant and MHI have agreed to form a joint venture to advance the development of the potential new units at Comanche Peak. Luminant will hold 88% in the joint venture and MHI will hold the remaining 12%.


Mike Blevins, Luminant executive vice president and chief nuclear operator, said: "The US-APWR is the right technology, MHI is the right partner and this joint development is the right commercial focus for our team." Hiroshi Inoue, executive officer and senior vice president of MHI's nuclear energy systems headquarters, commented: "This joint venture will enhance the relationship between both companies, but more importantly, the construction and operation of the US-APWR at Comanche Peak will help ease the growing demand for electricity in the state of Texas."


The joint venture, expected to be formed by the end of 2008, will continue development of the COL and fund project development costs during the period preceding issuance of the licence. 

MHI submitted an application to have the US-APWR design certified by the NRC in December 2007. The NRC is currently reviewing that application.

COL request for Fermi 3

ESBWR (GE Hitachi) 
ESBWR design (Image: GE-H)
Yesterday, Detroit Edison submitted a COL application with the NRC for a potential new reactor, based on GE-Hitachi's (GE-H's) Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design, at its existing Fermi 2 nuclear power plant site in Detroit. Detroit Edison, a subsidiary of DTE Energy, is the fourth US utility to select the ESBWR for a total of six potential new reactor units.

Anthony Earley, chairman and CEO of DTE Energy, said: "It is satisfying to reach this significant milestone, which is necessary if we are to maintain the option of building a nuclear power plant to help Michigan meet both its growing need for electricity and its environmental goals."

He noted, "The company's immediate focus is to maximise energy efficiency programmes and develop cost-effective renewable generation. But in the long run, Michigan still will need new base load power plants. We will never run an auto assembly line or a cold-rolled steel mill using windmills or solar panels. You need big, base load nuclear and coal power plants to keep them running."

GE-H is also providing Detroit Edison with technical support for its licence application.

Jack Fuller, president and CEO of GE-H, said: "We are pleased to work with Detroit Edison in supporting its licence application for a potential ESBWR to help the state meet its long-term energy needs." He added, "Detroit Edison's submittal of a licence application based on the ESBWR is an important step forward and reflects confidence in our advanced design to provide Detroit Edison customers and shareholders with the right combination of cost-effective energy with a greater level of safety and reliability."

The ESBWR design, like that of the US-APWR, is currently under review for certification by the NRC.