ESBWR back as proposed North Anna unit

26 April 2013

Dominion has reverted to GE-Hitachi's Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) as the favoured technology for the proposed third unit at its North Anna plant in Virginia.

The utility originally selected the ESBWR design for North Anna 3 in 2005. It submitted a combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for the unit in November 2007, referencing the ESBWR. In 2009, however, Dominion said that it had been unable to negotiate a contract with GE-Hitachi and launched a competitive bidding process. The following year, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) was selected as the preferred technology to be used.

ESBWR (GE Hitachi)
The ESBWR (Image: GE-Hitachi)

However, in a filing yesterday to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dominion said that it had now "decided to replace the reactor design previously selected for a potential unit with ESBWR technology."

Dominion Virginia Power's vice president for nuclear engineering and development Eugene Grecheck was cited by the Richmond Times-Dispatch as saying, "Given changes in the marketplace, we believe this is the best option now to deliver a project in the best interests of our customers."

GE-Hitachi said that the project development agreement includes engineering work to support the development of the specific ESBWR design for North Anna 3 and licensing support work for Dominion's COL application. While GE-Hitachi's project development activities will focus on reactor design and equipment, it has commissioned Fluor to work on the balance of plant, including planning for construction and the installation of a GE steam turbine in the turbine island.

Dominion will amend its COL application to reflect the ESBWR technology by the end of 2013 and expects to receive the COL "no earlier than late 2015." Dominion noted that it has not yet committed to building a new unit at North Anna.

North Anna received an Early Site Permit (ESP) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in November 2007. Without specifying the reactor type, the ESP declares the site suitable for a new nuclear power plant on safety, environmental and related grounds.

For the ESBWR, in addition to Dominion's North Anna COL application, Detroit Edison has lodged an application for an ESBWR at its Fermi plant in Michigan. Applications were also submitted for ESBWRs at Entergy's Grand Gulf and River Bend sites, as well as by Exelon for a new site in Victoria County in Texas, but all of these have been either suspended or withdrawn.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News