NuStart bows out with mission accomplished

15 June 2012

NuStart Energy Development has announced that it is to disband now that it has achieved its twin objectives of obtaining a construction and operating licence for a new reactor in the USA and completing the design engineering for Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology.

Construction at Vogtle (Southern)_200
Ongoing work at the Vogtle site
(Image: Southern)

Ten US utilities came together in 2004 to form the limited liability company NuStart Energy Development which then combined with reactor vendors GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse to form the NuStart consortium. This overall group's avowed objectives were to demonstrate the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) then untested licensing process to obtain a combined construction and operating license (COL) for a new nuclear power plant, and to complete the design engineering for two advanced reactor technologies: Westinghouse's AP1000 pressurized water reactor and GE's ESBWR boiling water reactor.

Applications were duly submitted by NuStart members for both reactor types, but a COL application for an ESBWR at Grand Gulf lodged on behalf of the consortium was suspended at the request of applicant Entergy in 2009 when the utility informed the NRC that it was considering alternative reactor design technologies. The AP1000 fared differently, achieving final NRC approval in December 2011 and the first COL in February 2012 - for two units at Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power's Vogtle plant.

Now that its objectives have been achieved, NuStart Energy Development has announced that it will disband and reallocate its resources back to its member companies with effect from 30 June. The group benefited from the the US Department of Energy's (DoE) Nuclear Power 2010 initiative, which offered a 50:50 cost-shared program to encourage utilities to take the initiative in licence application and reactor vendors to undertake detailed engineering and arrive at reliable cost estimates. According to NuStart, DoE's funding for nuclear energy through the program amounted to approximately $355 million, while NuStart and Westinghouse together contributed $975 million.

NuStart Energy president Marilyn Kray said the company had been the "leader and motivator" behind the licensing efforts for four new US reactors: another NuStart member, South Carolina Electric & Gas, received approval for a two-unit expansion of its VC Summer plant weeks after the Vogtle COL was announced. Westinghouse chief technology officer Kate Jackson said the company had been proud to be a NuStart partner. "By coming together, the NuStart consortium members helped reduce risk and uncertainty, manage costs and ensure the best engineering minds in the business were used in the process," she said.

NuStart Energy Development's ten member companies are DTE Energy, Duke Energy, EDF Inc, Entergy Nuclear, Exelon Generation, Florida Power & Light Company, Progress Energy, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Southern Nuclear, and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). DTE Energy replaced founder member Constellation, which withdrew from the consortium at the end of 2006.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News