This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 26, 2007

Companies File the First Nuclear Plant Application in 29 Years

The biggest step yet toward reinvigorating the nuclear power industry in the United States happened on September 25th, when NRG Energy, Inc. and the South Texas Nuclear Operating Company filed for a license to build and operate two new nuclear plants in Texas. The two facilities will be built at the South Texas Project nuclear power station, where two nuclear power plants are already in operation. The proposed Units 3 and 4 will have a combined generating capacity of at least 2,700 megawatts and will employ Advanced Boiling Water Reactor technology, which is currently in use in Japan.

The two companies submitted their Combined Construction and Operating License Application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), making them the first to test this new application process. The NRC will now begin an estimated two-month acceptance review process, followed by a detailed review process that could take up to three and a half years. Based on that schedule, the companies hope to receive their license approval and begin construction in 2010, with the aim of bringing Unit 3 online in 2014 and Unit 4 online in 2015. See the NRG Energy press release.

DOE welcomed the news, hailing it as the first step to a "substantial deployment" of nuclear power in the United States. DOE also released a Conditional Agreement for companies building new nuclear power plants in the United States to qualify for a portion of $2 billion in federal risk insurance. Risk insurance covers costs associated with certain regulatory or litigation-related delays that stall the start-up of these plants. Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, risk insurance provides incentive and stability in spurring construction of new nuclear power plants. See the DOE press releases on the license application and the risk insurance.