UniStar Nuclear Energy last week confirmed that its Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 nuclear energy facility was among four projects chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to enter the final phase of due diligence for a portion of $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for advanced nuclear projects. The selection positions UniStar to move forward with detailed negotiations leading to a conditional commitment under the program.

New reactors at Southern Co.’s Vogtle plant in Georgia, Scana Corp.’s Summer plant in South Carolina, and NRG Energy’s South Texas plant are among the projects still being considered for loan backing, Reuters reported earlier this month. Under the loan guarantee program, the government promises to assume the companies’ debt obligations if they default on loans for the nuclear projects.

The DOE’s decision means that UniStar—a joint venture between Constellation Energy and EDF Group—is another step closer to developing an advanced nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Lusby, Md, UniStar said. “This decision by the Department of Energy is another milestone in our efforts to build certainty for our proposed Calvert Cliffs Unit 3, and with it, certainty for our planned fleet of advanced new nuclear facilities at selected sites throughout the U.S.,” said George Vanderheyden, president and chief executive officer of UniStar Nuclear Energy.

The DOE announcement follows an order from a Maryland Public Service Commission hearing examiner on April 28 that approving UniStar’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the Calvert Cliffs 3 facility. The proposed CPCN order could become final later this month.

“We look forward to beginning the detailed due diligence and negotiations with DOE for a conditional commitment, as well as to receiving required state permits,” said Vanderheyden. “Our objective is to obtain a conditional commitment from DOE by the end of the year so we may begin preliminary site work shortly thereafter.”

UniStar said that the 1,600-MW U.S. EPR reactor at Calvert Cliffs would represent one of the largest economic and industrial development projects in Maryland’s history, playing a meaningful role in helping to rebuild the U.S. economy and manufacturing sector with new construction, engineering, and skilled-craft jobs. The facility is also expected to help Maryland and the nation meet environmental targets while adding needed 24/7 capacity to meet growing demand.

Two UniStar partners, AREVA and Alstom, are also moving forward with major investments that will create additional nuclear energy–related jobs in the U.S. AREVA, in a joint venture with Northrop Grumman, plans to break ground this summer on a $360 million Newport News, Va., facility that will construct heavy reactor components for the US EPR. Alstom has announced plans to invest $200 million in Chattanooga, Tenn., to manufacture turbine generator systems, including those that will be used by UniStar’s first four planned nuclear energy facilities.

Source: UniStar, AREVA, Alstom, Reuters