DTE Electric to Get NRC Combined License (COL) for Proposed Nuclear Reactor

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will soon issue DTE Electric a combined license (COL) to build and operate an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at its existing Fermi 2 site in Michigan. 

The federal regulator announced on April 30 that it found the staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC’s Office of New Reactors to issue the license.

DTE said in a statement that “it has not committed to building the new plant, but will keep the option open for long-term planning purposes.”

DTE submitted its COL application on Sept. 18, 2008. While the NRC completed its environmental review and issued the final impact statement for the proposed Fermi reactor in January 2013, it waited to issue a final safety evaluation report until after it had certified the ESBWR design in September 2014.

The ESBWR is a 1,600-MW Gen-III+ advanced boiling water reactor that employs true passive safety systems and a simplified design utilizing natural circulation. These attributes allow the reactor to cool itself for more than seven days without operator intervention or the need for on- or off-site power.

The COL imposes several conditions on the license, including specific action associated with the agency’s post-Fukushima requirements for mitigation strategies and spent fuel instrumentation. It also requires monitoring and analysis of the reactor’s steam dryer during initial plant startup, in line with current procedures for existing boiling-water reactors approved to operate at increased power levels.

“With this license, DTE Energy now possesses the most diverse, comprehensive slate of options to plan for Michigan’s energy future,” said Steven Kurmas, DTE Energy’s president and chief operating officer. “The potential of additional nuclear energy gives us the option of reliable, base-load, generation that does not emit greenhouse gases.”

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)