Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Energy Infrastructure & Supply Forbes Examines Resurgence of Nuclear Energy Through Southern Co.

Forbes today tackled the question of whether the development of the new nuclear power plants in Georgia was the "start of a much bigger round of nuclear construction in the U.S.—if the controlling owner of the site, Southern Co., can pull this off." The article detailed how cost overruns and construction delays contributed to the setbacks that utilities faced in the past in bringing nuclear power plants forward.
Wrote Forbes: "Now Southern Co. is trying to revive it with a pair of reactors set to come online in 2016 and 2017 next to two older reactors at its Vogtle power station, 30 miles south of Augusta. At $31 billion, Southern, based in Atlanta, is the biggest utility in the country by market value. It runs 73 fossil and hydro plants along with six nuclear reactors at three sites. The company earned $1.6 billion in 2009 on $15.7 billion in revenues and has the reputation on Wall Street as one of the best-managed utilities. If someone's going to build a nuke, it probably should be Southern."
Aris Candris, CEO of Westinghouse, the Toshiba-owned company supplying the reactor design for Southern as well as 12 of the 20 other new projects planned in the U.S., was quoted by Forbes as saying: "We went through a long, lean period in nuclear. That gave us plenty of time to lock arms as an industry and decide next time we were going to do it right." Forbes noted that the model Southern is building, the AP1000, is totally new, with safety systems powered by gravity instead of electricity, a so-called passive design. Candris stated: "We spent hundreds of millions of dollars to prove to the regulators that water indeed flows downhill." Wrote Forbes: "The AP1000 has half the valves, 35% fewer safety-grade pumps, 80% less pipe and 85% less cable than existing plants. Three AP1000s can fit within one first-generation nuke."
Forbes, Sept. 9.

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