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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
Scott Burnell, spokesman for the NRC, said this week that the agency staff must decide whether it would require significant additional review of safety and environmental issues.
"It may turn out that the review done for the [GE Hitachi] design" would be sufficient for the Mitsubishi reactor, "meaning that not a lot of additional review is needed. The staff is still working that out," Burnell said.
The Mitsubishi reactor would generate about 1,500 megawatts of power, almost as much as North Anna's existing Units 1 and 2 combined.
Dominion has said that additional safety and environmental review would not be necessary.
"We're kind of in flux here, but we anticipate they [Mitsubishi] will get the certification to allow us to build and begin operating in 2019 or 2020," said Richard Zuercher, spokesman for Dominion's nuclear operations.
If the company decides to go ahead, initial site preparation work allowed by the early site permit could begin within two years, he said. By 2013, with a combined license in hand, "We could be pouring concrete and actually building the unit."
Construction would take four to five years.
BILLIONS TO BUILD
The cost of the project is another unknown, which could affect whether Unit 3 is ever built.
In 2004, one Dominion executive said the price tag for Unit 3 would be about the same as the cost of a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant--about $1.4 billion.
In 2008, the pro-industry Nuclear Energy Institute put the construction cost of a new, 1,000-megawatt plant at between $6 billion and $8 billion. Newer estimates from other sources bracket the figure closer to $10 billion.
Dominion and other utilities received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Energy to help cover the cost of the NRC application process.
Meanwhile, billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees have been approved by Congress to help utilities finance the massive construction projects.
Dominion is not among those in line to receive a loan guarantee, but has asked to be considered. In February, President Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to the Southern Company and two partners to build two reactors in Georgia. That's part of an $18.5 billion guarantee fund set aside for financing new reactors.
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.