Luminant and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on Monday announced they had established a joint venture to develop Luminant’s Comanche Peak Units 3 & 4 in Texas using MHI’s US-Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR).

The joint venture, known as Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Co., will fund project development costs during the period preceding issuance of the combined construction and operation license (COL) to build and operate the two units. Under the terms of the joint venture, Luminant holds an 88% ownership share in the company and MHI has a 12% stake.

Luminant said in a press release that the joint venture would “formalize and enhance” its existing work with MHI, while MHI said that it would “cement and define” the relationship between both companies. The joint venture was also particularly important in achieving construction and operation of the US-APWR at Comanche Peak, said Hiroshi Inoue, executive officer and senior vice president of MHI’s nuclear energy systems headquarters, in a statement.

Luminant selected MHI’s US-APWR as its technology of choice in March 2007 following an extensive evaluation of prospective nuclear generating technologies. Since then, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has accepted for review Luminant’s application to build and operate Comanche Peak Units 3 & 4 at its existing nuclear power plant. The joint venture will work toward the successful licensing of Units 3 & 4, each of which will be capable of producing 1,700 MW.

MHI established Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc. (MNES) as a wholly owned subsidiary in Washington, D.C., in July 2006 to introduce the US-APWR to the U.S. market. The company submitted an application to have the US-APWR design certified by the NRC in December 2007. That application is currently under NRC review.

Luminant is the only company to have officially chosen the US-APWR for its planned U.S. reactors. Exelon, the nuclear giant that proposed a two-unit plant in Victoria County, Texas, recently told POWER that it is now negotiating separately with Toshiba and GE-Hitachi, both vendors of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), as well as with MHI for its US-APWR.

“The establishment of the joint venture between MHI and Luminant will allow the Comanche Peak project to move forward as economically and efficiently as possible,” said Frank Gillespie, senior vice president, new plant technology, of MNES. “By having a single joint-venture entity managing the COL and funding the project development costs, we can be the most responsive to requests by the NRC and other agencies as the process moves forward.”

The US-APWR is an evolutionary pressurized water reactor with improved efficiency, enhanced safety systems, and other advanced design elements, MHI said. MHI has built 23 pressurized water reactors that currently operate in Japan and has a 24th under construction. MHI also provides a wide range of maintenance services to the plants once they are in operation.

Luminant and MHI had previously announced they would seek official support for financing from the U.S. and Japanese governments. The joint venture has submitted a loan guarantee application to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sources: Luminant, MHI, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, POWER