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

February 01, 2006

Nuclear Plant Revival Advances with Approval of New Design

Advocates of new nuclear power plant construction moved closer to the goalpost on January 31st, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published the final design certification rule for Westinghouse Electric Corporation's "advanced passive" reactor design, the AP1000. The rule certifying the AP1000 design will become effective on February 27th, allowing utilities to reference the design in their applications to build new nuclear plants. In December 2005, the NRC also accepted an application from the General Electric Company for its advanced design, the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, or ESBWR. That design is still under review at the NRC. See the NRC press releases about the Westinghouse and GE designs.

A number of utilities are now moving ahead with applications to NRC for licenses to build new nuclear plants using the AP1000 design. Progress Energy, which previously indicated its intention to apply for a license, announced in late January its selection of the Harris Nuclear Plant site near New Hill, North Carolina, as its proposed location. Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear Operating Company also announced plans in late January to pursue new AP1000 nuclear plants at the Plant Vogtle nuclear site, near Waynesboro, Georgia. Duke Power announced back in October 2005 that it would also submit an application to build two reactors of the AP1000 design, but it has not yet named a location. See the press releases from Progress Energy, Georgia Power, and Duke Power.