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Posts Tagged ‘Calvert Cliffs 3’

IS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HOLDING UP NRG LOAN GUARANTEE IN FAVOR OF CALVERT CLIFFS?

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 31, 2010

 

An unidentified source in a French news story says the Obama Administration may be holding back from awarding a federal loan guarantee to NRG’s South Texas project because it is in the Lone Star State. 

"According to one source, the Obama administration would prefer the loan guarantee to go to the Calvert Cliffs project in Maryland, which is a Democratic state, rather than to NRG’s project in largely Republican Texas," says this report from Agence France-Presse.  "According to the same source the DoE would also prefer the money go to EDF to avoid the risk of making the US nuclear sector over-reliant on Japanese technology."

The story is a boilerplate review for French readers spelling out Electricite de France’s difficulties in reviving Calvert Cliffs after its partner, Constellation Energy, dropped off the project two month ago. The comment comes far down near the end of the story.  Still, it has a ring of plausibility, since the Obama Administration is about to square off with Texas over the authority to issue air quality permits regulating carbon, beginning January 2.  On the other hand, it’s hard to see why relying on Japanese technology is any different from relying on French technology.  The real problem is that there is very little American technology remaining since the roadblocks to nuclear development erected in the past 30 years have driven most of the industry offshore.

Constellation walked away from Calvert Cliffs after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the chances of a loan default at 50 percent and asked a $700 million fee in compensation.  EDF has tried to revive the project but must find an American partner to satisfy a 1950s law saying non-American companies cannot own more than half of a commercial reactor.  NRG’s South Texas project has had its own troubles, with the City of San Antonio pulling out of the project when it became too expensive.  NRG is attempting to build two Westinghouse Advanced Boiling Water Reactors, a technology that is not the most advanced but has an old approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The more advanced technology, the Westinghouse-Toshiba AP1000, now under construction at four sites in China, is still under review at the NRC after six years.   EDF’s Calvert Cliffs project would be an Areva’s U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), a duplicate of the European Power Reactor that Areva is constructing in France and Finland.  The only remaining U.S. design, General Electric’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, is now being marketed in conjunction with Hitachi.

If the Obama Administration wants to promote American nuclear technology, it will have to do more than block loan guarantees at South Texas.

 

Read more at Agence France Presse

 

JASCKO’S U.S. RENAISSANCE RANKING: SOUTHERN, SCANA, NRG MOST LIKELY TO BUILD

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

December 4, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
 
During a sweep through Bloomberg’s New York City headquarters Friday, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told the news service that nuclear plants being advanced by Southern Co., Scana Corp and NRG Energy, Inc. are at the top of the 13 applications currently pending before the agency.
 
Jaszko said the three companies are "actually doing" preparation work at their sites in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas.
 
Conspicuously missing from the list is EDF’s Calvert Cliffs 3 plant, which had been a clear frontrunner for Energy Department loan guarantees until the withdrawal of UniStar principal Constellation Energy.
 
Jaszko said decisions on applications to build will start flowing in 18 months.
 
Bloomberg quotes the Chairman as saying a couple years ago, more applicants "may have been talking about construction immediately after licensing, now there appears to be more of a wait and see."  Jaczko attributed the hiatus to a recession-induced energy demand drop and a decline in the cost of natural gas.
 
The press-shy NRC Chairman — who has been increasingly embattled in the face of mounting Congressional criticism for his handling of the high-profile Yucca Mountain license review — has generally been fastidious in not offering specifics on new plant licensing.

LLEWELLYN KING: OMB ‘STRANGLED CALVERT CLIFFS IN ITS CRIB’

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Veteran journalist Llewellyn King, host of PBS’s “White House Chronicles,” says the Office of Management and Budget “strangled [Calvert Cliffs] in its crib” and is pushing us back toward a nuclear “dark ages.” “By effectively axing a new reactor, OMB was acting against the  Department of Energy, Congress, and possibly the wishes of President Obama,” wrote King in his regular weekly column.

“Strangely, Congress and the Obama administration have declared the revival of nuclear power as national policy and  money has been appropriated for loan guarantees. But both are seeing their desires frustrated by OMB and its formula for calculating the chances of success or failure for new nuclear projects.”

King draws an apt comparison between Calvert Cliffs and the Cove Point liquefied natural gas terminal build just down the Patuxent River in the Chesapeake Bay during the 1970s. “[T]he Cove Point terminal and gas plant has been a symbol of the vagaries of the gas market,” he writes. “Much of the time it has stood idle, with fishermen maneuvering their boats among its piers.” The reason is unpredictable gas prices, which have yo-yoed between $2 per $11 per mcf in the last decade.
“The joker is wild-and the joker is natural gas, aided by the OMB bureaucracy,” he says “The nuclear renaissance may be delayed again in the United States, but 58 nuclear plants are under construction in 14 countries, including 24 in China alone,” King concludes in a very insightful and well informed analysis of the Calvert Cliffs situation.

Read more about it at Stock Markets Review

DOE/OMB SHOCK: Feds try to get Constellation Back to the Loan Guarantee Table

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Platts is reporting via agency spokespeople that the U.S. Department of Energy and Office of Management and Budget feel hornswoggled by Constellation Energy’s late Friday afternoon withdrawal by letter from the Obama Administration’s loan guarantee sweepstakes for a new nuclear reactor at Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear site.

The White House and the US Department of Energy were purportedly "on the verge of
offering UniStar a new set of loan-guarantee terms," Platts says.

"On Friday, as DOE received this letter, literally, almost simultaneously, DOE and OMB had a whole new set of modified terms to go back to them with," OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer told Platts. "This was very surprising to us, because we were in the middle of a dialogue with them, and they seemed to cut it off."

"We hope that Constellation, or their other business partners in this project, will consider moving forward and working with us in [continuing to find] terms which are good for them and good for the taxpayer," Baer said.

Baer’s DOE counterpart, spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller echoed the sentiment to Platts. "We were surprised to get the letter about Constellation dropping out of this process since DOE has been working closely with them on this complex transaction and even on the day they sent this news had a modified set of loan terms that responded to the concerns they had," Mueller said.

In another development Platts is reporting via Senator Jeff Bingaman’s spokesman, Bill Wicker, that "although DOE has made great strides in improving the process in the last year, there still are too many steps of review with OMB and Treasury; those two agencies simply are not coordinating well enough."

Read more at Platts