The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) last week said it would continue pushing for regulatory approval of its proposed Bellefonte nuclear plant, though the NuStart consortium had shifted priority to another project, while Progress Energy Florida delayed the commercial start of its proposed Levy County plant by almost two years while it awaits a combined construction and operation license (COL)  from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The TVA will continue to pursue NRC approval to build and operate the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site near Hollywood, Ala., even though the NuStart consortium plans to shift initial licensing efforts for the new reactor design to Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle application.

At the time Bellefonte was selected by NuStart for a COL, no new nuclear plants in the U.S.were  ready to begin construction. NuStart is now transferring the “reference” designation to build the first of a new generation of reactors to the Plant Vogtle application. The change is designed to align industry and regulatory resources with a license application that has specific, near-term construction plans, the TVA, a member of the NuStart consortium, said in a release last week.

 “With the reference designation transitioning to the Plant Vogtle project, the NRC can complete the licensing process sooner and pave the way for subsequent combined construction and operating license applications,” said TVA Vice President of Nuclear Generation Development and Construction Ashok Bhatnagar. “Though TVA has not made a decision to build a new large-scale, base-load generation nuclear plant at this time, completing the transfer of the reference designation will not affect our pursuit of a license for Bellefonte Units 3 and 4.”

The Bellefonte site had been designated as the “reference” application for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design when TVA submitted its COL application to the NRC in October 2007. The reference application contains standard licensing, engineering, technical, quality, and safety information that future applicants can use to develop their own site-specific applications much more efficiently.

On Friday, meanwhile, Progress Energy Florida announced plans to delay  the construction schedule for its planned Levy County nuclear project by more than two years to reflect the NRC’s determination that excavation and foundation preparation work will not be allowed until the NRC issues the plant’s COL.

The company had originally planned to complete the preparation work to coincide with the NRC’s approval of its COL application, which it expects in late 2011 or early 2012. Progress Energy Florida had applied for the COL in August 2008. The shift in the construction schedule will now move the commercial operation dates for the two Levy units from the 2016–2018 time period by more than 20 months.

Progress Energy Florida on Friday also said it had filed, as required, its 2010 nuclear cost-recovery estimates with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).The filing would cover construction of the planned Levy County plant as well as improvements to increase the gross output at the existing Crystal River nuclear plant from 900 MW to 1,080 MW.

The company is seeking approval to spread certain costs over five years. If approved, the deferral would result in a nuclear charge of $6.69 per month per 1,000 kWh for residential customers in 2010 instead of $12.63 per 1,000 kWh, as allowed by the current law, it said. The PSC will hold hearings on the company’s nuclear cost recovery in September and is expected to make a decision in mid-October.

Sources: TVA, Progress Energy Florida