Now we are talking! I mentioned in a comment on my last post that I was a competitive guy. I love participating in sports, especially various types of racing (I was a swimmer while growing up) and I admit that I spend more than half of my allotted TV time on ESPN or other sports channels. I also like to compete in other endeavors. For me, the joy is in stretching my own limits or watching others demonstrate just how far the human body can go – I really, honestly do not care if I “win” or not because most of the time second, third or fourth place in a field of hundreds is still pretty satisfying.
It looks like I am going to have a new opportunity for watching a multi-participant, important, engaging battle – the one to construct new nuclear power plants. Though there is some advantage provided by government incentives for being in the top six across the finish line (with a bit of a kicker for finishing in the top two) there will be some satisfaction – and significant long term rewards – for all participants who finish without killing themselves or their employees.
According to a September 25 article in the New York Times (which is available for all to see by simply clicking past an add) titled Approval Is Sought to Build Two Reactors in Texas, Constellation and NRG are competing for the title of “first to pour” for the next round of new nuclear power plants in the US. As I mentioned in my last post, there are a number of site preparation steps that can be accomplished before obtaining approval of the combined construction and operating permit, but the first concrete pour for the reactor containment will not happen until the COL is issued.
Here is a quote from the article describing the importance of the race:
But Mr. Crane of NRG hopes to beat Constellation to the punch.
“By filing first, we’ll be able to maintain or increase or lead in the N.R.C. process,” he said. “It’s akin to being in a one-mile race and we’re ahead after the first lap.”
In August, NRG announced that it had selected Toshiba to lead construction of the two-unit reactor designed by General Electric, to be built at a site 90 miles southwest of Houston. (It is still negotiating to use the G.E. design.) The project has an estimated cost of $6 billion to $7 billion.
Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the first two reactors qualify for $500 million in “standby support,” or insurance against regulatory delay; the next four units are eligible for $250 million each.
Both NRG and Constellation have already filed their applications (technically, Mr. Crane is correct since Constellation has only filed a “partial” application), but they will be reviewed by different groups within the NRC since they are seeking approval for building very different types of reactors. The NRG application is for two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) while the Constellation application is for a single Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor (EPR).
Let the race continue. I personally think that this is going to be a bit like a marathon where there are far more participants that you might initially imagine and there is plenty of room for some dark horses that are still kind of hiding in the middle of the pack. (Hmmm; the silence out of Amarillo is kind of deafening to me. Wonder what Mr. Chapman is up to these days?)