December 20, 2010
Based on continued informal soundings from our growing repository of industry, Wall Street and political sources along with more objective calibrations of key factors such as financing, balance sheet, NRC license status, design certification, market support and electricity demand, engineering procurement and construction contracts, politics, and public acceptance – not necessarily in that order – the Nuclear Townhall Year-End U.S. Renaissance Power Ranking Top 10 tallies its year-end standings, which remain largely unchanged.
The U.S. Renaissance flagship — Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle Plant Units 3 and 4 – continues to hold its frontrunner status. The “Hare” – the South Texas Project – moves up a notch to the #2 position on the strength of its last-person-standing in the government nuclear loan guarantee sweepstakes. South Texas swaps positions from our October Power Ranking with the “Turtle” – low flying South Carolina Electric and Gas’s V.C. Summer II and III. Just coincidentally, the Townhall’s “Top Three” mirrors the list of new plant candidates cited by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko in a early December Bloomberg interview.
Westinghouse’s AP1000 – holds at #4 on the strength of continued soundings emanating as well from the NRC.
A soon-to-be unveiled Westinghouse SMR – according to informed sources – debuts on the joint small reactor marquee trio, albeit still facing government funding issues, holding the #6 slot along with incumbents B&W mPower and NuScale. Out for the moment is the suddenly quiet Hyperion.
Calvert Cliffs III, with EDF moving to meet foreign ownership issues, clings to the #10 slot.
U.S.’s American Centrifuge Project heads the “Best of the Rest” and bears watching.
1. Southern Vogtle III & IV
Flagship U.S. project. Loan guarantees in place. Solid and steady. Shovels in the ground.
2. South Texas Project
Loan guarantee pushing forward in the absence of the Calvert Cliffs option. Shakes up EPC team. Merchant plant but proven technology. Low natural gas prices and no carbon pricing remain issues along with lowered load growth.
3. South Carolina Electric & Gas V.C. Summer II & III
Strategy of flying under the radar is poised to pay off. Has avoided being number one in the NRC licensing queue and constructive engagement with DOE on the loan guarantee process. Small utility aiming to play major leagues. Good political support. Lowered load growth.
4. Westinghouse AP1000
No news is good news. 2011 license approval in the cards.
5. TVA Watts Bar II, Bellafonte I
Tangible commitments made to Bellafonte I development.
6. Small Modular Reactors: B&W mPower; NuScale SMR; Westinghouse
With large reactors softening, SMRs continue to be rack-up attention. Customer challenges, DOE funding concerns persist.
7. URENCO USA Enrichment Plant
Progressing under the radar. Kick-started in June and headed toward 5.7 million SWU capacity. First new U.S. enrichment capacity in 30 years
8. AREVA Eagle Rock Enrichment Plant
Loan guarantee in place; proven centrifuge technology. Deep pockets. Strong state support.
9. Dominion Energy North Anna III
Rate-based. Rock solid credentials. Very competitive EPC contract. Uncertified technology.
10. UniStar Calvert Cliffs III
The French Flagship? Down but not out. Foreign ownership complicating teed-up loan guarantees but EDF to the rescue . Low natural gas prices and no carbon pricing remain issues along with lowered load growth.
BEST OF THE REST: USEC American Centrifuge; Duke Energy Lee Station; Illuminant Comanche Peak; Progress Sharon Harris; GE-Hitachi Laser Enrichment