Dominion seeks NRC approval for new reactor
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RICHMOND, Va. -- Energy company Dominion Resources Inc. has filed an application to build an additional nuclear reactor at its North Anna Power Station, company executives said yesterday, making the energy company the third to seek federal regulators' permission to build a new nuclear reactor.
Richmond-based Dominion said it was trying to keep up with consumer electricity needs.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week approved an early site permit for the new reactor at the power station in Louisa County, about 60 miles north of Richmond, which already has two reactors. The NRC's decision allowed the Richmond-based company to complete preliminary site work.
The government review process for new plants can take as long as 42 months, but because Dominion's is the first application to follow an early site permit, that timeline could be shorter, NRC Chairman Dale Klein said at a conference in Washington.
Mr. Klein reiterated his recent warnings that the lengthy review process will be delayed by up to two years if lawmakers do not authorize a proposed increase in funding for his agency.
Federal agencies are running at current levels after Congress did not complete more than a dozen spending bills before the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
The Tennessee Valley Authority last month became the second company to file a completed application, which was for new reactors at the Bellefonte nuclear power station near Scottsboro, Ala. NRG Energy Inc. in September was the first company in about 30 years to submit a new application to build and operate new reactors at its Bay City, Texas, power plant site.
None of the companies have actually committed to building new plants.
The average cost of nuclear-produced electricity was 1.72 cents per kilowatt hour in 2006, compared with 2.37 cents for coal-fired plants and 6.75 cents for natural gas plants, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group.
Dominion is among the power companies nationwide that are wading back into the nuclear pool after virtually abandoning the power source following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the huge cost increases for New Hampshire's Seabrook nuclear power plant.
The NRC has predicted it will get new combined construction and operating license applications for as many as 29 reactors at 20 sites nationwide, most in the South, over the next three years.
Dominion's application is opposed by several environmental groups. They say another reactor is unnecessary at a time when utilities should be exploring alternative energy sources, and would present a new target for terrorists.
"We are opposed to this plant for a variety of reasons," said Glen Besa, Appalachian regional director for the Sierra Club.
Mr. Besa said the concerns range from the increased water temperatures at Lake Anna to nuclear waste disposal and safety risks.
"The whole revival of the nuclear industry is just one accident away from being shut down again," Mr. Besa said.
The Lake Anna area, where the North Anna Power Station is situated, is bordered by Spotsylvania, Louisa and Orange counties. Surrounded by thousands of homes, it is a recreational draw in central Virginia.
First Published November 29, 2007 12:00 am