NRG Energy seeks reactors

Annette M. Drowlette/Staff

WASHINGTON - Power producer NRG Energy Inc. is expected today to submit the first application for a new nuclear reactor in the U.S. in nearly 30 years.


NRG's application for two new units at its South Texas Project in Bay City will be the first complete construction and operating license submission the government has received since before the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Scott Burnell on Monday said the agency, based on conversations with the company, expects to receive NRG's application this morning. He said that the government still expects to receive up to six more applications this year from Duke Energy Corp., Dominion Resources Inc. and others.

Southern Co. has said it intends to apply for a combined construction and operating license for two new nuclear reactors at its Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant near Waynesboro later this year or in early 2008.

Utilities see in nuclear plants an opportunity to affordably meet demand for electricity, which the Energy Information Administration is forecasting will grow by 42 percent by 2030. High natural gas prices and the prospect of taxes or constraints on greenhouse gases are making gas- or coal-fired plants less attractive.

Though NRG and other nuclear renaissance enthusiasts expect new reactors to come online by 2015, a March report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service predicted the process would take closer to 15 years to complete for several reasons, including the government's new review, testing and approval procedures.

Representatives from NRG did not immediately return calls for comment Monday afternoon.


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled two hearings Thursday seeking public comment on Southern Co.'s application to renew its operating license for its two reactors at Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

The meetings, at Augusta Technical College's Waynesboro campus on Georgia Highway 24 South, will be at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be an "open house" one hour before each meeting to allow interested people to ask questions or talk informally with NRC staff.