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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Constellation Submits Application For New Nuclear Plant

Constellation Energy Group has filed an environmental review application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build a 1,600-megawatt reactor at the current Calvert Cliffs site in Lusby, Maryland. The two reactors currently at the site went into operation in 1975 and 1977 and are located about 50 miles southeast of Washington, DC. Application processing costs can be as high as $100 million. The NRC technical review could last 2 1/2 years, followed by another year for hearings. It then takes at least 7 years to construct a plant. We have to figure out a way to speed up this process and reduce the cost. Estimates of plant construction costs range from $1 -$4 billion.

Unlike other utilities that have submitted Early Site Permit and Combined Operating License (COL) applications that allow utilities to get permission to build without actually making the decision to build, the Constellation application is a direct build application. This is a very bold move. It is probably because of the competition among utilities to qualify for the significant benefits included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. To date, four other companies have asked for early site permits from the NRC, and two have been approved.

Constellation has an agreement with Electricite de France (EdF), which will make an initial investment of $350 million in a joint venture and invest up to $275 million later to develop nuclear plants in the U.S. and Canada. EDF is the largest electricity producer in Europe. It has operated 58 nuclear plants for more than 20 years. AAEA supports this project. (Wash Post)

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