STATUS: In progress with opposition
OPPOSITION: Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition, which includes MD PIRG, Beyond Nuclear, Sierra Club, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Green Party MD, Clean Water Action and other local activists.
BACKGROUND: On July 31, 2007 UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between Constellation Energy and French-based EDF Inc., filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Southern Maryland. The project will utilize a 1,600-megawatt Areva-designed Evolutionary Power Reactor, and is estimated to cost around $10 billion and will take 10 years to construct if approved.
A coalition of environmental groups calling itself the Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition has opposed the project, individually and as part of the coalition. Their objections to the proposed reactor include arguments that nuclear plants are expensive to build, radiation is inherently dangerous, uranium mining is environmentally destructive, and that nuclear waste disposal is unsafe and uncertain.
UniStar had applied for a $7.5 billion loan guarantee for the project. However, on October 11, 2010, Constellation Energy officially pulled out of the project, on the grounds that the loan guarantee's terms for the proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 reactor are “unreasonably burdensome and would create unacceptable risks and costs for our company.” The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had required an upfront fee of $880 million, or 11.6 percent of the project, in order to obtain the loan. Further negotiations led OMB to propose a 5 percent fee but require Constellation to self-insure the project, buy up to 75 percent of the reactor’s power, and pay an additional $300 million.
On October 27, 2010, EDF agreed to buy Constellation’s 50 percent stake in UniStar and the Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 project, reviving hopes—however slim—for the project’s future. EDF must find another partner for the project to replace Constellation, since Federal law prohibits full ownership or control of a U.S. nuclear plant by a foreign entity.
SOURCES: Baltimore Sun (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-10-30/business/bs-bz-nuclear-renaissance-calvert-cli20101031_1_nuclear-renaissance-nuclear-plants-nuclear-reactor;
Baltimore Business Journal (http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2010/10/11/daily14.html);
Constellation Group web site (http://www.constellation.com/portal/site/constellation/menuitem.5119c68c6cf2d3688ec66a10016176a0);
Last Updated: November 4, 2010