Japanese explosions threaten plans for nuclear expansion in Texas

March 16, 2011


Dallas Morning News

New reactors are in the extreme expensive, and unless the government, vendors, investors and major clients share the burden, it’s hard to make a financial case to build in Texas’ deregulated electricity market.

The company has been negotiating for years with its Japanese vendor, Toshiba Corp., and investment partners, the utilities owned by the cities of San Antonio and Austin. NRG wants to share the financial risk of building the reactors. In Texas, power companies must build plants on their own and only make money by selling electricity.

Credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service said: "In light of recent events and the capital needs nevertheless unfolding at TEPCO, we would not be surprised if TEPCO’s efforts to invest internationally were scaled back materially."

The massive expense

Both Texas projects require government loan guarantees because of the massive expense. The Department of Energy has the money to guarantee loans for probably one more nuclear expansion project. NRG is a front-runner in the competition.

"There’s lot of passions on this issue, and nuclear’s as much a political issue as things are a science issue," said David Johnson, a managing director at Protiviti business consulting firm.

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