Mysterious Moves – NRC approves former TEPCO-partnered South Texas Project ABWR reactor design

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In October 2010, the South Texas Project announced that the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, had entered into an agreement with Nuclear Innovation North America, to purchase an initial 9.2375% stake in the expansion for $125 Million, and $30 Million for an option to purchase an additional stake in the new units for $125 Million more (resulting in approximately 18% ownership by TEPCO, or 500MW of generation capacity).

NRG Energy Inc. officially ended plans to build more nuclear power reactors in Texas after the Fukushima Disaster, which their proposed project partner company, TEPCO was responsible for.

Analysts attributed the abandonment of the project to the financial situation of the plant-partner TEPCO, the inability raise other construction financing, the current low cost of electricity in Texas, and expected additional permitting delays.

NRG has written off its investment of $331 million in the project.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Tuesday it has approved a new version of a nuclear power plant design which was to be used at the project location.

South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company, which includes U.S. power company NRG Energy , submitted an application to amend the ABWR design in June 2009.

The agreement was made conditional upon STP securing construction loan guarantees from the United States Department of Energy.

Despite the announcement of the reactor’s cancellation by NRG Energy in the Spring of 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continued the COL process for the new reactors in October 2011.

It is not clear at the current time why the reactor license application is proceeding, but questions have been raised about what other projects might spring up due to the approval.

Source: www.reuters.com, via @EMRKC
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