A consortium of eight companies said on Thursday that it would spend about $100 million to prepare applications to build two nuclear reactors, in Mississippi and Alabama, a step that seems to move the industry closer to its first new reactor order since the 1970's.
The announcement was made by NuStart Energy, a consortium of companies that has substantial government financing. The consortium selected a site in Claiborne County, Miss., adjacent to Entergy Nuclear's Grand Gulf reactor, and another in northern Alabama, next to the Tennessee Valley Authority's long-abandoned Bellefonte nuclear construction project.
The Energy Department is committed to sharing costs to develop the two applications, and has agreed to pay the application fee, about $30 million, for one of them; the consortium is asking the department for money for the other. At the same time, Entergy announced that it would act on its own to develop an application for a reactor at a site next to its Waterford plant, in Louisiana.
The government, the reactor manufacturers and companies that own and operate existing reactors are testing a reformed licensing procedure, established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the 1990's to avoid the pitfalls of the 1970's and 80's, when several reactors were ordered and construction begun before design was completed or regulatory approval obtained.
Under the program, designs for the Grand Gulf reactor, to be made by General Electric, and the Bellefonte reactor, to be made by Westinghouse, will be mostly completed and also approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before substantial work is done at the sites.
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