Mayor wants nuclear partners to settle

January 4, 2010

CPS Energy and Nuclear Innovation North America will meet Monday in an attempt to settle the $32 billion lawsuit over their proposed nuclear project.

The negotiation session was brokered by Mayor Julián Castro, who requested via letter that they meet "around the clock, if need be" at the Westin River Walk Hotel before the suit goes to trial Jan. 25.

"I think it’s better to try to get in the room and settle the differences," Castro said.

Castro, who sits on the CPS board, sent the letter Monday to NRG Energy, NINA, Toshiba Corp. and CPS.

"We’ll be there," said CPS acting General Manager Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley. "We look forward to sitting down at the table."

An NRG spokesman said that a high-level NINA executive would attend. NINA is a partnership between NRG and Toshiba, the main construction contractor.

"From NRG and NINA’s perspective, we always have favored negotiation to litigation," said NRG President David Crane in a statement.

CPS and NRG have been working for several years on a proposal to build two more nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project outside of Bay City.

The expansion, particularly San Antonio’s part, has become more tenuous in recent months as news of high cost estimates have shaken the public’s and City Council’s faith in the project and the utility.

CPS filed suit Dec. 6, originally asking the court to clarify its rights if it pulled out of the deal.

The suit became nasty Dec. 23 when NINA responded that CPS was in breach of contract and should lose the hundreds of millions of dollars it has invested. CPS shot back hours later with the $32 billion claim, charging that NRG and Toshiba had lured CPS into the project through "fraudulent, defamatory and illegal conduct" and had then tried to push CPS out.

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