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Posts Tagged ‘NRG’


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



Friday, October 1st, 2010

For years one of the most common arguments of anti-nuclear activists has been that, even if a new reactor is ever licensed, there will be no money to build it. “The utilities can’t afford it. Wall Street won’t invest. Where’s the money going to come from?” they ask.
Yet there’s always been one obvious answer – other countries. Sovereign wealth funds around the world are looking for investments and the U.S. offers an attractive market. After all, with respect to nuclear, we are rapidly becoming an underdeveloped country.
So it wasn’t any surprise yesterday to hear that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation is in negotiations with NRG Energy for a possible investment of $4 billion in the South Texas Project.
Of course Japan has an interest in South Texas. The two reactors will be Westinghouse AP1000s, owned by Toshiba. “Jordan and other Middle Eastern nations, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia will be the growing markets for nuclear plants,” said Tadashi Maeda, head of the bank’s corporate planning department. “In addition, the U.S. is a huge and well-developed market.”  So that’s where we rank internationally, right up with Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Maeda said the loans would be contingent on South Texas getting loan guarantees from the U.S. government – an issue that is still very much in doubt.
Japan suffered a severe blow last summer when it lost the bidding for a $20 billion nuclear project in the United Arab Emirates to upstart South Korea. The government has since been taking steps to promote Japanese nuclear companies abroad.
“Japan can’t be a big fish in a small pond,” Maeda said. “The country needs to break out of the pond by globalizing and standardizing its technologies.

Read more at Bloomberg News


Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The Obama Administration’s 18-month effort to pass significant climate and energy legislation effectively ended yesterday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it official that he will not introduce a truncated energy bill for a vote before the scheduled Senate August recess.

The anticipated bill had limited climate-related  aspects.  Its main concern was the BP oil spill — removing liability caps and tightening permitting for offshore drilling. The effect, according to Senators from the Gulf states, would be to turn the Administration’s temporary moratorium on drilling in the Gulf into a permanent state of affairs. Opposition from Republicans and Gulf State Senators convinced Reid he could not get the 60 votes needed to advance the bill.

Representatives of the offshore oil industry breathed a sigh of relief but said that the six-month moratorium on drilling imposed by the Obama Administration is already having a devastating impact. "This is a very competitive international market," said Jack Victory, a spokesman for Transocean, the Swiss company whose rig blew up at Deepwater Horizon. "These rigs are in demand all over the world.  Several have already left the Gulf for Egypt, Brazil and West Africa.  It’ll be a long time before they come back."

Although the drilling slowdown will not have any immediate impact, it could start to show up in diminishing production within a few years.  One-third of domestic oil production now comes from the Gulf and domestic production only provides one-third of the U.S.’s oil consumption.

Nuclear energy sources generally conclude that the demise of an energy bill with carbon pricing put more more pressure on a policy lift from federal loan guarantees, which also seem to be grinding to a halt as well. This week both NRG and Constellation Energy slashed plans for spending on new projects in anticipation that the Department of Energy would not be making any more awards in the near future.


Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Two of the most promising new build projects announced severe cutbacks this week as hope that the Department of Energy will soon announce any new loan guarantees begins to fade.

NRG, of Princeton, N.J., announced it would reduce monthly spending to $1.5 million a month, down 95 percent from two months ago, at its South Texas project near San Antonio. Total spending for the year will drop from an anticipated $302 million to $186 million. Although CEO David Crane said he is still confident the project will go forward, NRG is obviously pulling back on its commitment. NRG stock rose 3 percent after the announcement.

Constellation Energy in Maryland made virtually the same announcement last week when it said it is suspending all new spending on Calvert Cliffs III until the loan guarantee issue is resolved. Constellation even suggested it might drop the project altogether if a decision from the Department of Energy is not forthcoming by the end of the year.

EDF, the French national utility that is Constellation’s partner on the project, reported a big drop in earnings last week, mainly because of losses on Calvert Cliffs. The two companies have already spent $600 million on the project.

Hopes that any new loan guarantees may be forthcoming from DOE are guarded. The Department has committed about $9 billion of its authorized $18.5 billion to the Vogtle Plant in Georgia, being build by Southern Nuclear Company.  The remaining loan guarantee pool is not sufficient to fund both South Texas and Calvert Cliffs — forcing DOE to chose between the two projects or further delay any announcement until FY2011 budgets are finalized with fresh funding. 

In February President Obama proposed raising the loan guarantee fund to $54 billion but Congress has not yet fully acted on his suggestion. The Senate nixed an additional $9 billion in loan guarantee funding from a proposed FY2010 supplemental funding bill.

Read more at the WSJ…

…and the Baltimore Sun


Thursday, June 24th, 2010

“Electric cars would be the biggest thing that’s happened to our industry since air conditioning.”  That’s the vision of David Crane, CEO of NRG, the nation’s largest and most diversified merchant energy company.
(Crane will be the “Interview of the Week” in two weeks on Nuclear Town Hall.)
Yesterday NRG came a step closer to implementing Crane’s vision by announcing the nation’s first flat-rate, all-you-can-eat recharging service for electric cars in Texas. The plan will be up-and-running in Houston – what better place to take on the oil industry? – and Dallas next year.
NRG’s overall strategy is clear. In 2007 it submitted the first application for construction of a new nuclear reactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 28 years. The South Texas Project will add two Toshiba Advanced Boiling Water Reactors generating 2,700 MW to the two Westinghouse PWRs already on the site. NRG, along with Constellation Energy in Maryland, is expected to be the recipient of the next round of federal loan guarantees for new nuclear. With all that new power, NRG will have plenty of room to expand its customer base.
Remarkably, NRG already has competition in the field. TXU Energy and its sister company, Luminant, Texas’s largest electricity provider, is planning to offer a system that will service the Nissan Leaf and GM Volt, both due out in 2011.
Since a completed electric-car infrastructure will be able to offer electric car owners the equivalent of 77-cents-per-gallon gasoline, it doesn’t appear it will require too many government subsidies or mandates to get the nuclear-power/electric-car tandem into gear.

Read more at The Dallas Morning News

Texas, New Jersey Neighbors Love Their Nuclear

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The amazing pattern of overwhelming support for nuclear among people who live next door to reactors continued last week at public hearings in Texas and New Jersey.

In Bay City, Texas a raucous crowed voiced nearly unanimous support for construction of the South Texas 2 and 3 projects before a public hearing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We need these jobs,” Carolyn Thames, a member of the Bay City Council told NRC panelists. “We love STP!” she concluded, to loud applause. The only opponents were a representative of Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen and the anti-nuclear SEED Coalition who traveled all the way from Austin to argue the plant isn’t needed.

The South Texas Project, headed by NRG, is a finalist for federal loan guarantees.

Meanwhile, in Salem County, New Jersey local business and political expressed support for PSE&G’s plans to file for permission to build a third reactor to join Salem Units 1 and 2.

“With unemployment in the county hovering at about 12 percent, the economic possibilities of the plant cannot be overstated,” said Salem County Freeholder Bruce Bobbitt, echoing a theme sounded constantly at nuclear hearings. The utility company is already the largest private employer in Salem County.

Why is it that people who are most rabidly opposed to nuclear reactors usually have very little first-hand experience with them?

Read more at My San Antonio News


William Tucker