3 Nuclear Energy Projects That Could Begin Soon
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a generic environmental impact statement a few weeks ago. The statement is in response a 2012 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, and it clears the way for storing spent nuclear energy for one hundred years or more.
The court previously said that the NRC did not conduct due diligence in accessing the full impact of nuclear waste on the environment, which led led the NRC to stop all nuclear licensing activities in 2012. However, this recent decision allows new nuclear power plants to be built, despite an inadequate plan for long-term nuclear waste disposal.
Because of this, here are three nuclear energy projects that could begin soon.
Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant
Anticipated to cost between $13 and $15 billion, the Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant is a proposed nuclear power plant expected to be built on the Bell Bend of Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) will build the nuclear power plant. In October 2008, the company submitted an application for combined license, or COL, for an AREVA US Evolutionary Power Reactor, or U.S. EPR, which means, Areva S.A (OTC: ARVCF), (OTC: ARVCY) will be the supplier of the nuclear reactor.
PPL says on the Bell Bend website that the NRC permission is the next thing in line for the project. Therefore, with the new development from NRC, application review should resume soon. If and when PPL obtains a license, it means that a new source of revenue will become a reality for the company. Areva will benefit from the project, as well.
Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station, Unit 3
Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located on the shore of Lake Erie, Michigan. The power plant has two units named Fermi 1 and Fermi 2, both of which have experienced issues in the past. This could be why the unit 3, tagged Fermi 3, is being worked on.
The plant is owned 100 percent by DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a company that sells electricity to more than two million customers in southern Michigan. Fermi 3 is estimated to cost as much as $10 billion. The Fermi 3 project is one of the few nuclear projects that has reached the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards stage, which is expected to commence in October this year.
As with most nuclear projects, there are concerns. One of them is potential negative impacts that the project might have on water quality, but the NRC seems to believe that these reported downsides don’t outweigh the benefits, judging from the fact that the commission has gone so far with the review. Based on the information available on the NRC website, there are only four items remaining on the review schedule.
If DTE Energy is able to get past all these hurdles to secure a COL, chances are it will add to its existing two million-plus customers. General Electric (NYSE: GE) is another company that could benefit from this project. The company, in conjunction with Hitachi, produces the nuclear reactor that will be used: the Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor.
William States Lee III Nuclear Generating Station
The William States Lee III Nuclear Generating Station is a proposed two-unit nuclear power plant that is planned to be located at Duke’s Lee site near Gaffney in Cherokee County, South Carolina.
Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE: DUK) is working on this project. Duke estimates the overnight cost of the plant at $11 billion.
Duke submitted an application for COL for two Westinghouse Advanced Passive 1000 Pressurized Water Reactors, with each of the reactors going for each of the units. Duke expected to receive a COL for the Lee plant in 2012.
However, up until the time of writing, Duke is yet to obtain a COL. The most probable hindrance would be the NRC issue that has just been resolved. As such, it is likely that the review of this project will resume soon. This two-unit nuclear power plant, if approved, has the potential to provide more than 900 full-time jobs during the station operation.
One thing to note is that Duke has an impressive track record of getting the best out of its employees -– judging from its annual revenue per employee, which has been on the rise over the past decade. It means that if Duke would hire 900 people to work at the Lee plant, one can expect an impressive performance from the plant in the long term.
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