Exelon submits application for Texas nuclear power plant

Exelon Generation submitted a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) application to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seeking authorization to build and operate a new dual-unit nuclear generating facility in Victoria County, Texas.

The combined license application, approximately 6,500 pages long, took a team of more than 60 Exelon employees and contractors just under 12 months to complete. Exelon’s COL application is the 12th to be submitted to the NRC by a United States nuclear operating company in the past 14 months.

The NRC’s evaluation of the application is estimated to take three to four years. A decision on the license is not expected before 2012.

The combined license application weighed in at approximately 6,500 pages long and took over 60 employees almost an entire year to complete. A completed reactor would power more than 1.85 million Texas homes.

The proposed facility would be built on an 11,500-acre site about 13 miles south of Victoria, Texas, off U.S. 77 in southeast Texas. Plant structures would occupy about 300 acres and a man-made lake for plant cooling would cover about 4,900 acres. The two reactors would be capable of producing at least 3,000 megawatts – enough to power more than 1.85 million typical Texas homes.

In addition to electrical power that would meet rising demand in Texas, the plant would boost the economy of the Victoria area, according to independent studies. At its peak the site would employ an estimated 6,300 construction workers and, once operational, 800 permanent employees. It would also increase local economic output by $2 billion each year.

Salaries in skilled fields at nuclear generating stations range from $65,000 to $85,000 annually, up to double the average household income in Victoria County.

The proposed Exelon plant also would help meet rising energy requirements in Texas while benefiting the state’s environment by combating global climate change. The plant would generate no greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. In terms of carbon prevention, an operating plant of this size would be the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road.

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that the United States will need 25 percent more electricity by 2030. In Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) projects that “base load” energy needs will grow by 10,000 megawatts by 2014, about the output of seven large nuclear reactors or a dozen large coal plants.

Exelon Generation chose the GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) new generation of reactor technology for the Victoria site, should Exelon ultimately decide to build the plant. Called the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, or ESBWR, the design is one of the two technologies sponsored by the Energy Department’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program.