Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on TEPCO's South Texas Nuke Plant Investment

that TEPCO Chairman Katsumata mentioned in the yesterday's press conference.

From Skadden law office announcement in May 2010 [emphasis added]:

Skadden is representing the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO), which entered into an agreement with Nuclear Innovation North America LLC, a nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy, Inc. and Toshiba Corporation, to acquire a 10 percent interest in the planned expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear plant. TEPCO's investment, announced May 10, marks the first time a Japanese utility has invested in an overseas nuclear power project. This will be the first project in the United States to utilize Advanced Boiling Water Reactor technology.

"Advanced"? After the GE-designed, Toshiba-made boiling water reactor in the Reactor 3 at Fukushima I blew up? I suppose TEPCO and Toshiba have since refined the technology after they installed the Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant in 1974.

Advanced boiling water reactor, according to wiki, is currently offered by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. Fukushima I Nuke Plant's Reactor No.6 and 7, whose construction was scheduled to start in April 2012, were planned to be ABWR.

And the Texans seem to remain bullish on nuclear energy and believe TEPCO will not pull out.

From Platt's Energy Week (emphasis added; 3/15/2011):

Japan's still-unfolding nuclear crisis has shaken investor confidence in prospects for a US nuclear renaissance, but it remains unclear if the March 12 accident at a Japanese nuclear plant in the aftermath of a 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami will slow or even stop US nuclear projects now in advanced stages of development.

... The plan by Nuclear Innovation North America, an 88/12 joint venture of NRG Energy and Tokyo-based Toshiba, to add two 1,350-MW advanced boiling water reactors at the South Texas nuclear project in Matagorda County, Texas, faces perhaps the most immediate uncertainty.

Toshiba supplied the GE-designed boiling water reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3, whose reactor roof exploded on Monday. And both that unit and Fukushima Daiicchi Unit 1, which suffered a similar fate on Saturday, are owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., which last May committed to buy up to a 499-MW stake in the South Texas nuclear expansion.

NRG spokesman David Knox said Monday that it is too soon to comment on whether the Japanese nuclear crisis might lead Tepco to shift its attention to rebuilding its crippled nuclear generation fleet at home and withdraw its plan to invest in US nuclear capacity.

"Our focus is on our friends and partners" in Japan, Knox said. "There will be time to assess the impact [of Japan's nuclear crisis] on nuclear development in the US in the days and weeks to come."

Tepco said last May that it will pay NINA $125 million for a 10% share of the joint venture, which owns a 92.375% stake in the South Texas expansion project, once the Department of Energy has issued a conditional commitment to the project's developers for a federal loan guarantee.

Tepco also agreed to pay NINA $30 million for an option to buy an additional 10% stake in NINA about a year later for another $125 million. Tepco's initial 10% stake in NINA will give it a 9.2375% interest in the expansion project, and its second 10% stake will increase that interest to 18.47%, or 499 MW. CPS Energy, the San Antonio municipal utility, owns the other 7.625% stake in the expansion project.

NRG's Knox said that "nothing happens" regarding Tepco's commitment to join the South Texas expansion project until DOE has offered the project a conditional loan guarantee. The proposed loan guarantee is currently being reviewed by the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management & Budget, he said. It would then go back to the DOE Credit Review Board for approval before being issued.

"Considering everything that's going on I wouldn't want to hazard a guess" on when that conditional loan guarantee might be forthcoming, Knox said.

Leading proponents of "new nuclear" said that they do not believe the Japanese nuclear crisis will delay or kill US projects now under development.

Please read the full article at the link.

After today's Obama's speech, Mr. Knox can rest assured that the federal loan guarantee will be forthcoming shortly.

So the Japanese are not the only delusional people. Good to know.