Exelon to seek license for nuclear power plant in Victoria County
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 12/19/2007
VICTORIA, Texas -- Exelon Nuclear has chosen an 11,500-acre site in
Victoria County in southeast Texas to pursue the possible construction
of a nuclear power plant.
Exelon officials said Tuesday that the company will apply to the
federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission by September 2008 for a combined
construction and operating license.
The Warrenville, Ill.-based company expects to spend $23 million on the
application process. Officials said submitting the application next
year will allow the company to take advantage of tax credits and
federal loan guarantees contained in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
"If Exelon makes this investment in our community, it will give us a
chance to reinvent our economy in a way similar to what happened when
DuPont came to town in 1952," Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong said. "From
a financial and psychological standpoint, this is the biggest
opportunity we've had in Victoria County since 1952."
Exelon stressed that it hasn't committed to building the plant, which
would sit about 20 miles south of Victoria on U.S. Highway 77. Victoria
is located about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio.
The company said the decision will hinge on a solution for disposing of
used fuel, public acceptance of a new nuclear plant and assurances the
project would be financially successful.
In June, the company said it was studying both the Victoria County site
and a site in Matagorda County.
Craig Lambert, Exelon's vice president of engineering for new plant
development, said the Victoria site was better suited for a reactor,
partly because of its soil composition.
The company said the site would use a man-made freshwater lake for
cooling. It has already made arrangements with the Guadalupe-Blanco
River Authority to reserve water for the proposed plant, officials
Exelon Nuclear spokesman Craig Nesbit said construction of the plant
could generate between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs. After construction, the
plant could employ between 700 and 900.
Nesbit said the plant would use a new reactor developed by General
Electric known as an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. The new
model, which has never been used before, is touted as smaller and more
productive than conventional reactors.
Spokesman Scott Burnett said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still
evaluating the new reactors, and the agency has not yet certified them
Environmentalists said it's difficult to judge Exelon's plans this
early in the process, but some observers raised concerns about the
difficulty of disposing of nuclear waste, plant safety and the amount
of water the project would consume.
"At this time, so little is known about the specifics of Exelon's
proposal that it is not possible to evaluate potential impacts on the
whooping cranes or other wildlife in the area," said Mina Williams,
vice chairwoman of the Coastal Bend Sierra Club.
Thomas S. O'Neill, Exelon Nuclear's vice president of new plant
development, said nuclear energy "is safe and clean and has a low
"That's why we believe nuclear energy is a key part of Texas' future
energy mix -- because of its inherent environmental and energy
Texas is home to two nuclear power plants. The South Texas Project near
Bay City is operated by a consortium of energy companies. This month,
CPS Energy applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to
build two reactors at that site.
The other existing plant is Comanche Creek, about 80 miles southwest of
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