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WILL UNIT 3 BE BUILT?
Dominion power now says Unit 3 at North Anna Power Station--if it is built--won't be producing power until 2019 at the earliest

Date published: 7/29/2010

By RUSTY DENNEN

Seven years into the application process, Dominion power's plan to add a third nuclear reactor at North Anna Power Station is still just that--a plan.

If the company decides to build Unit 3 on the shores of Lake Anna--and it has yet to make that commitment--the earliest it could come online is 2019, the company now says.

While the application process continues to play out, it's difficult for anyone to say with certainty, when--or even if--a Unit 3 will join the two existing reactors at the plant near Mineral in Louisa County.

Since submitting its initial application for an early site permit in September 2003 to lock in a location for 20 years, Dominion has been revising its timeline.

Early company estimates had the unit coming online in 2012, then 2015 and now 2019.

Company officials say the framework of a new application process to allow the construction of the first new commercial power reactor in three decades, is taking time to navigate.

Dominion received its early site permit in the fall of 2007, then applied for a combined license that would allow it to actually build and operate Unit 3. It is one of 19 reactor applications from around the country that are awaiting NRC approval.

DESIGN CHANGE DELAY

At one point, Dominion was at the head of the pack. But there have been delays because of additional NRC and state reviews of aspects of the project, along with more substantive reasons.

The most significant was a decision by Dominion in May to go with a different reactor design.

Dominion's first choice was GE Hitachi's Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. But when Dominion was unable to get commitments from GE Hitachi that it needed to move forward, the utility sought proposals from other vendors.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' US-Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor won out. Luminant Generation Co. LLC has also chosen the Mitsubishi design for two planned reactors at its Comanche Peak plant in Texas.

Neither of the new, advanced reactors has been certified by the NRC.

It is not clear yet how the reactor design change will affect the timetable for North Anna Unit 3.


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North Anna Power Station's Units 1 and 2 went online in 1978 and 1980, respectively.

The plant's two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors produce 1,806 megawatts of electricity--enough to power about 450,000 homes.

The plant was originally designed for four reactors, but only two were built.

Unit 3, if it is built, would produce about 1,500 megawatts of power and would be constructed near the existing units on the Louisa County shore of Lake Anna.

--Dominion power