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Nuclear Power Companies Seek Federal Permit Aid for New Generation of Plants

by Jeff Johnson
May 10, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 19

Three consortia of nuclear energy plant owners and manufacturers have applied for federal aid to help them obtain construction and operating licenses for a possible new generation of nuclear plants.

The companies hope to take advantage of federal programs that allow them to apply for construction and operating licenses simultaneously and also provide funds to help pay for the application process.

Last November, the Department of Energy announced that some $15 million will be available this year for the programs. However, the companies are seeking more than $400 million in 50-50 matching grants to be spread over seven years, the time they estimate will be needed to prepare and process the applications.

The new permit process is part of several Nuclear Regulatory Commission modifications to speed up and lower the cost of obtaining permits to site, build, and run a new nuclear power plant. For instance, companies can now receive site permits separate from construction and operation permits and then marry the two later. The permits are good for 40 years.

So far, three power companies have applied for site permits. None of the companies, however, has committed to building a new plant, says the Nuclear Energy Institute. The last successful contract to build a U.S. nuclear power plant was made in 1973.

In all, 19 U.S.- and foreign-owned energy companies and reactor manufacturers are part of the three consortia.


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