Completely new nuclear plants applying for licenses in Maryland and Idaho

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received its first application since the 1970s to build a new nuclear power plant, a spokesman for the NRC said on Wednesday, August 1, 2007. The proposed plant in Maryland won’t come online until at least mid-2014 and is among a new wave of about 19 reactors that will be considered by the NRC in the next year or so, said Scott Burnell, NRC spokesman.

The proposed 1,600-megawatt reactor will take its owner, Unistar Nuclear, an estimated $4 billion to $5 billion to construct, but that price tag may increase depending largely on construction material cost, the company has said. The new reactor would almost double the size of Calvert Cliffs’ power output, which is now about 1,735 megawatts. A megawatt can serve about 750 to 800 homes, so if the third unit is built, Calvert Cliffs would be able to serve about 2.6 million homes. NRC staff is expected to take about two-and-a-half years for a technical review of the full license, with an expected additional year if the new the plant is contested. No NRC decision on the full license — which would allow construction — is expected until at least mid-2011, said Burnell.

Owyhee County has received an application to build a nuclear plant from Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. If approvals go as expected then the plant would come online in 2015.

Rendering of the complex

The company is proposing to build a $3.5 billion, 1,600-megawatt nuclear/biofuels facility in the Bruneau/Grand View area.

Last Monday, the Owyhee County Commission unanimously voted, at the request of AEHI, to waive the requirement that the application be processed in 125 days, in order to give time to consider the complex proposal.

“The Idaho Energy Complex (IEC) will provide a reliable source of revenue for Owyhee County and the state of Idaho,” said Don Gillispie, President and CEO of AEHI. “I can assure you we’re never going to outsource this to China. Idaho can and should bolster its economy with energy generation.”

The county’s deferral of the 125-day time limit will allow the local and federal processes for the power plant to run concurrently.

They funding in place

* A proposal for a Generation 3 advanced reactor, which will use just 100,000 gallons of water a day for cooling, compared to the 30 million gallons a day typically associated with second-generation reactor types.

There will be no effect on surface or groundwater supplies and a complete hydrology report will be prepared as required by the NRC.

* The IEC complies with the Owyhee County Comprehensive Plan, which states the county will aid in the recruitment of non-polluting light industries to the county and pursue economic development.

* The IEC complies with the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan, which found Idaho is vulnerable to the economic effects of federal regulation of carbon dioxide and mercury emissions from coal fired energy facilities. The plan calls for “diversifying the state’s energy production and reducing reliance on imported power.”

Past articles on nuclear energy