This is a press relase by 7 companiese on their planned response to a Department of Energy solicitation of proposals to build "an advanced nuclear reactor. I copied it from a web page, but press releases on the web often disappear, so I thought I'd better keep a copy. I discuss the press release on my Nuclear Now web page.

WASHINGTON - Five leading energy companies and two nuclear reactor vendors plan to form a consortium that will work with the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate and test a new licensing process for obtaining a Combined Construction and Operating License for advanced nuclear power reactors.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding expressing their intent to form the consortium. Neither the planned consortium nor its members are making a commitment to build a new nuclear unit at this time.

The consortium will prepare a proposal in response to a DOE solicitation last November asking energy companies to demonstrate the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's new COL process.

The companies are Constellation Generation Group, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, Baltimore; EDF International North America, Washington, a subsidiary of the large French utility; Entergy Nuclear, Jackson, Miss.; Exelon Generation, Philadelphia; Southern Company, Atlanta; and two nuclear reactor vendors, Westinghouse Electric Co., Pittsburgh, and GE Energy's nuclear operations, Wilmington, N.C.

Each energy company is expected to contribute to the consortium about $1 million a year in cash plus in-kind and administrative services, totaling about $7 million over seven years each.

The consortium plans to submit its proposal as part of DOE's Nuclear Power 2010 program, a joint government/industry cost-sharing initiative designed to conduct regulatory demonstrations and advanced reactor development activities. Demonstrating that the NRC's new licensing process can result in a COL reduces some business uncertainty for companies interested in building new nuclear plants.

The new COL licensing process was established by the NRC in 1992 to streamline obtaining a new license and to add some certainty but has never been tested.

''Advanced nuclear plants offer a promising potential - passive safety designs, stable fuel prices, lower production costs than other fuels used to generate electricity and a very low environmental impact,'' said Gary J. Taylor, president, CEO and chief nuclear officer of Entergy Nuclear.

Chris Crane, president and chief nuclear officer of Exelon Nuclear, which owns 17 reactors, said, ''To protect consumers against spiking energy prices and for our own national security, we need to maintain fuel diversity in the energy industry. Nuclear energy is safe, reliable and non-carbon emitting. We must keep the nuclear energy option open for the future.''

The consortium's objective is to demonstrate the COL process by obtaining the first COL license in the new process. A decision on construction of a new nuclear plant would be made by the individual members of the consortium at a later date.

The consortium's proposal, if approved and co-funded by DOE, would determine the best cost estimate yet for building and operating a new nuclear plant. More detailed engineering work would be done on advanced nuclear reactor designs than ever before. The two reactor designs selected by the consortium for further engineering work are Westinghouse's Advanced Passive 1000 and General Electric's ESBWR.

The consortium plans to complete the COL application and submit it to the NRC in 2008. After a decision by the NRC, projected in late 2010, any combination of the consortium's members could use the COL, should they decide to build a new plant.

Catherine Gaujacq, president of EDF International North America, said, ''EDF has a long tradition of evaluating nuclear plant designs and will have a great opportunity to do so by joining this effort. We are proud to partner with the best nuclear utilities in the U.S. by bringing our successful reactor design experience and as operators of a standardized fleet of 58 reactors in France."

''Constellation Energy views nuclear power as a safe, efficient and economical source of power for the future,'' said Michael J. Wallace, president of Constellation Generation Group. ''While Constellation Energy has no immediate plans for the construction of a new nuclear facility, our decision to join this consortium is indicative of our strong desire to see the process by which new plants are sited streamlined to support efficient construction in the future. To that end, we look forward to working with the Department of Energy in testing the NRC's new combined construction and operating licensing process.''

Marilyn Kray, a vice president at Exelon Nuclear, Kennett Square, Penn., has been selected as the consortium's executive lead and contact for DOE.

Constellation Energy Group (NYSE: CEG), a Fortune 500 company based in Baltimore, is the nation''s leading competitive supplier of electricity to large commercial and industrial customers and also manages fuels and energy services on behalf of energy intensive industries and utilities. It owns and operates a diversified fleet of power plants throughout the United States including four reactors at two sites in Maryland and New York and delivers electricity and natural gas through the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE), its regulated utility in Central Maryland. In 2003, revenues were $9.7 billion.

EDF International North America, Inc. (EDF-INA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electricite de France (EDF), incorporated in 1991. The EDF Group has more than 45 million customers worldwide, more than 160,000 employees and more than $45 billion in annual revenue. It owns and operates 280 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. EDF is the largest nuclear generator in the world with a fleet of 58 nuclear reactors totaling more than 63,000 megawatts of generating capacity.

Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), based in New Orleans, is the nation's fourth largest utility which owns power plants with about 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, serving 2.6 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and east Texas. Entergy Nuclear is the second-largest nuclear operator in the U.S., operating five reactors at four locations in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana and five reactors at four sites in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont, and provides management services to the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska.

Exelon Nuclear, a division of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), headquartered in Chicago, owns and operates 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 2003, Exelon Nuclear generated 143.9 billion net kilowatt-hours of electricity. Exelon Corporation is one of the nation's largest electric utilities with more than $15 billion in annual revenues. Exelon distributes electricity to approximately five million customers in Illinois and Pennsylvania and natural gas to 425,000 customers in the Philadelphia area. Exelon is headquartered in Chicago.

With four million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company, an energy services business and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service and high reliability.

GE Energy, based in Atlanta, is one of the world''s leading suppliers of power generation technology, energy services and management systems with 2003 revenues of $18 billion. GE Energy's nuclear business develops advanced light water reactors and provides a wide array of technology-based products and services to help owners of both boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors safely operate and maintain their facilities with greater efficiency and output.

Westinghouse Electric Co., Pittsburgh, is a pioneering nuclear power company and a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Today Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world''s operating nuclear plants.

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