Exelon's Clinton site suitable for new nuclear

09 March 2007

Exelon have received the first Early Site Permit (ESP) to be issued in the new US nuclear licensing scheme. It certifies the Clinton site in Illinois as suitable for a nuclear power plant, to be built sometime in the next 20 years.


The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has voted to approve the ESP and should formally issue the permit within ten days.


An ESP confirms that in principle the siteis suitable for a new nuclear plant according to, among other things, generalised physical, environmental and emergency planning criteria. Crucially, this key element of planning permission can be obtained by a company before committing the large capital required to build a new nuclear plant.

No reactor or plant design is specified in an ESP, which lasts for 20 years and so could be 'banked' by a company until its own commercial criteria are met before taking more steps towards building a nuclear plant.


Should Exelon go ahead with a new nuclear plant at Clinton, its next steps would be to select a reactor design and submit a combined Construction andOperating Licence (COL) application to the NRC. No US company has yet submitted a COL application, but it is thought the review process could take 42 months. This time period would be reduced by the existence of an ESP.


Exelon are part of the Nustart consortium which is meant to lead the way in proving the new licensing scheme, but the Clinton ESP development is unrelated to this. Nustart plan to submit two COL applications, one for a General Electric ESBWR at Entergy's Grand Gulf site, and another for two Westinghouse AP1000s at Tennessee Valley Authority's Bellefonte site.

The Clinton site already hosts a 1077 MWe boiling water reactor, but was originally envisaged as suitable for two.

Further information


Nuclear Regulatory Commission


US Nuclear Energy Institute: Licensing New Nuclear Power Plants

WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper


WNN: Exelon on new plants and uranium prices