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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three nuclear power projects moving forward with Areva’s design

Three nuclear power projects that would use Areva’s latest reactor design are moving forward this week to seek federal loan guarantees that could help them secure financing.

One other proposed reactor that would use Areva’s design, a UniStar Nuclear Energy project in New York, temporarily has been dropped from that process, due to stiff competition.

The second part of applications for the guarantee program is due Friday.

The Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program is designed to help companies get lower-cost financing to develop energy projects. If a plant covered by a loan guarantee were to default, the federal government would pay the lender.

Lynchburg has a significant interest in the outcome. Already one of the region’s largest employers, Areva is in the process of hiring 500 people to finish the detailed designs of its Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) and get several built in the U.S.

This year Congress allowed DOE to issue up to $18.5 billion of guarantees for new nuclear plant construction.

UniStar submitted two Part I applications for the guarantees, for a site in southern Maryland and a site in New York. Both proposed projects would use Areva’s EPR design.

Two other companies submitted Part I applications and named the EPR as their choice: AmerenUE in Missouri and PPL in Pennsylvania.

Those four applications had a lot of competition. DOE received Part I applications for a total of $122 billion in guarantees to support 21 new nuclear reactors. The department reviewed the Part I applications and gave a priority ranking to each project.

According to Bethany Shively, spokeswoman for DOE, the rankings were intended to help companies decide whether to submit Part II applications, which have a $600,000 filing fee.

The rankings were not made public.

Maureen Brown, spokeswoman for UniStar, said Monday that the company plans to submit a Part II application for its proposed reactor in Maryland. However, UniStar is delaying the submittal of a Part II application for the upstate New York site because “the program is significantly oversubscribed,” she said.

Because there is such a high demand for the loan guarantees, “We would hope that Congress would see the need to allocate additional loan guarantee funding for this program, and (we) would move forward with the (New York) approval process at that time.”

Spokesmen for AmerenUE and PPL confirmed this week that their companies intend to submit Part II site for their proposed EPRs.

Susan Hess, spokeswoman for Areva in Lynchburg, said Areva would not comment on UniStar’s decision to postpone the loan guarantee application for the New York site.

(Source: News Advance)

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