TREND: The Realities of the Nuclear Renaissance Emerge

Even as hype about the U.S. nuclear renaissance is quieting down—a result of economic woes and unrealistic expectations about political and regulatory developments—some developments remain. As these stories from the nation’s media suggest, the building of new nuclear plants in the U.S. may move ahead at a slower, more measured pace.

Moody’s May Turn More Negative on U.S. Nuclear-Power Development
In late June, Moody’s Investors Service said it is contemplating a more negative assessment of companies planning to build new U.S. nuclear units, citing risks to company balance sheets, despite prospects of federal government loan guarantees.

Duke Looks to Build a Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers told a press conference in Ohio in mid-June that his company is considering a new nuclear plant for Ohio in order to back off CO2 emissions from the company’s many coal-fired plants in the state. It was noted that it would take “many years” to bring a new nuclear unit online.

U.S. Southeast States Pave Way for New Nuclear Power
The Southeast, with little renewable energy prospects, is the most likely location for new nuclear plants according to legislators in the region, commenting at the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, as reported by Reuters. But regulators said they will be vigilant in making sure that nuclear investments are prudent.

U.S. Nuclear-Power Projects Court New Partners
U.S. power companies are increasingly looking to team up with similarly situated businesses to develop new nuclear plants in order to share risks, reports the Dow Jones Newswire. Among those looking for partners-in-risk: Progress Energy, Duke Energy, and NRG Energy.

Funding for Decommissioning Under Review

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked 18 licensees, operating 26 nuclear power units, to detail what may be shortfalls in contributions to their decommissioning funds, due to the economic recession. According to World Nuclear News, the plants are Beaver Valley, Braidwood, Browns Ferry, Byron, Calvert Cliffs, Clinton, Duane Arnold, Ginna, Indian Point, LaSalle, Nine Mile Point, Palisades, Point Beach, River Bend, Sequoyah, Vermont Yankee, Waterford, and Watts Bar.

Comanche Peak Hearing Includes Debate on Future Role of Nuclear Power

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel is looking at the request by Dallas utility Luminant to double its two-unit Comanche Peak nuclear plant with new units some 70 miles north of the city. Local opposition is fierce, and the fate of the expansion is in doubt.

Exelon Suspends Victoria Nukes on Economic Uncertainties, Loan Guarantees
Exelon Corp., the largest nuclear generator in the U.S., says it has suspended plans to build a proposed two-unit nuclear plant in Victoria, Texas, because of uncertainties in the domestic economy and limited federal loan guarantees.