Five energy companies and two nuclear reactor manufacturers have formed a consortium to begin the process of obtaining a license to construct and operate the first new nuclear power plant to be built in the U.S. in 25 years. The companies announced last week that they will spend $50 million over seven years to develop plans and obtain a construction and operating permit for two different advanced nuclear reactor designs. The consortium aims to complete the application process by 2008 and, by 2010, be ready to build a reactor. At this time, however, no company must commit to actually building a power plant, under the terms of a new Nuclear Regulatory Commission permitting process. Instead, companies can apply for this construction permit as well as for a separate permit to site a plant. Both permits are generic and, once obtained, are good for 40 years. The companies then have the option of marrying the construction and operation license with the site permit at a later date for an actual location and power plant design, thereby easing the application process. Last year, three energy companies applied for generic permits for several sites. The Department of Energy is lending a hand by providing $15 million in matching grants to the consortium (C&EN, Dec. 1, 2003, page 27).