Westinghouse Electric Co. sets sights on federal funds

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Westinghouse Electric Co. plans to apply again for a federal program designed to help fund the development of mini-sized nuclear reactor technology, the Cranberry nuclear energy firm announced this week.

The Department of Energy initiative will award up to $226 million per recipient as part of a cost-sharing program with companies developing reactors that could eventually power individual neighborhoods. The program is expected to award $452 million in total.

Westinghouse's letter of intent to the Department of Energy program is the company's second attempt at securing federal funding toward the deployment of small modular reactor technology. Westinghouse applied for the program's first round of funding, but lost out to Charlotte, N.C.-based Babcock and Wilcox.

Applications for the second round are due July 1.

Westinghouse and other nuclear firms have extensive plans for domestic and international small modular reactor development over the next several decades. The pressurized water reactors are smaller than traditional nuclear sites and can be built with individual parts transported by rail and then assembled like Lego sets.

The Department of Energy is looking for applicants whose technology has "the potential to address the nation's economic, environmental and energy security goals," the agency said in a release announcing the funding.

The federal program has attracted criticism from taxpayer watchdog groups who say it's a waste of money.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, gave the program its Golden Fleece award for wasteful government spending in February, saying the technology was unproven and unworthy of taxpayer dollars.


Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.


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