Dominion filed an application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 27 November for a combined construction and operation licence (COL) for a new reactor at its existing North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia.
The filing of the COL application for North Anna unit 3 follows the recent announcement that the NRC had granted an early site permit (ESP) for the site. On 20 November the NRC said that the North Anna site is suitable to host an additional reactor. Dominion has not committed to build the new reactor, but wants to maintain the option to do so to meet projected increased demand for electricity in Virginia in the next decade. The site already houses two pressurized water reactors (PWRs): unit one (924 MWe) which started up in 1978 and unit two (910 MWe) which began operating in 1980.
The company has partnered with General Electric-Hitachi and Bechtel on the new 1520 MWe project. The GE Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) is an advanced Generation III+ design that incorporates passive safety features. The North Anna site will be the reference site for demonstrating the ESBWR technology. GE-Hitachi is in the process of obtaining NRC certification for the reactor design, GE having submitted the ESBWR design application to the NRC in August 2005. Approval is expected by 2010.
The North Anna 3 design will incorporate a special closed-loop cooling tower system. This system will not discharge any heated water into the North Anna Waste Heat Treatment Facility or Lake Anna.
Dominion has a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to share equally the cost of the COL. The company expects it will cost about $500 million to complete all of the necessary work to be able to build the unit. The maximum expense to Dominion will be $60 million. Partners will provide the balance.
Dominion began preparing its COL application in September 2005. It said that it expects the NRC to issue a COL for North Anna 3 in 2010 and that construction could potentially start that same year, provided that regulatory bodies in Virginia and North Carolina also approve the project. The company anticipates the new unit to begin commercial operation by 2015 at the earliest.
Thomas Farrell, president and CEO of Dominion, commented, "Keeping the nuclear option on the table gives Dominion the flexibility we need to respond efficiently and effectively to the energy challenges that lie ahead. It also helps promote a balanced and diverse energy supply, ensures reliable electric service and stable prices for our customers, and protects environmental quality." He added, "We simply cannot afford to overlook the benefits that nuclear power has to offer."
In anticipation of receiving a COL, Dominion has already signed contracts with GE to purchase heavy forgings for the future plant. The contracts concern plant components which require a long time and require special manufacturing facilities to make - parts of the reactor pressure vessel, steam turbine and generator.
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper
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