Combined Construction and Operating License
On March 17, 2004, a group of nuclear-affiliated companies applied to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for up to $250 million in federal matching subsidies to help pay for submission of a construction and operating license application for a new nuclear plant at their North Anna site in Virginia. The group didn't announce the move until March 31, when the NuStart consortium announced it had applied for federal subsidies for the same purpose. DOE announced on November 4, 2004, that the Dominion consortium will receive an initial subsidy of $9 million, with more going to the NuStart consortium. Future awards are likely to increase, as the 2005 budget includes $50 million for the Nuclear Power 2010 program. The Dominion-led consortium includes:
Note that General Electric did not join the consortium until January 18, 2005, taking the place of former members Hitachi and Atomic Energy of Canada. According to news reports, the Canadian CANDU reactor design AECL would have brought to the process faced a significant approval process by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Dominion was not willing to spend the amount of money or take the amount of time necessary for the CANDU reactor design to be licensed for use in the U.S. Instead, Dominion will propose to use GE's optimistically-named "Economic Simplified" Boiling Water Reactor design. Approval for this design is likely to be easier because it more closely resembles other reactor designs that have been in use in the U.S. for decades.
The change may indicate that, while Dominion continues to rhetorically state they have no plans to build any reactors in Virginia or elsewhere, gaining approval for new reactor construction as soon as possible is a higher priority than they have let on.
Dominion has also applied for an Early Site Permit at its North Anna, Virginia plant site.