STATUS: In progress with opposition
OPPOSITION: Environmental groups.
PROSPECTS: Prolonged Delay
BACKGROUND: Luminant Generation Company LLC seeks to add two new reactors, Units 3 and 4, to its existing Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Somervell County, Texas. Luminant submitted its application for a combined operating license with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on September 19, 2008. The new reactors will be able to generate 1,700 megawatts each, or 3,400 total, boosting the plant's capacity by 148 percent to 5,700 megawatts. Luminant originally estimated that the project’s construction could cost $15 to 20 billion. A 2008 study by Luminant predicted that the expansion would create about 5,000 jobs during five years of construction and more than 500 permanent jobs. The expanded plant would indirectly create 2,847 permanent jobs in the Comanche Peak area and 6,264 permanent jobs throughout Texas, with a total economic impact of $22 billion.
As is the case with most new nuclear reactors, environmental groups have mounted significant opposition to the Comanche Peak expansion project. Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, Public Citizen, True Cost of Nukes and state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, have formally intervened in the licensing process, and are urging the Atomic Safety Licensing Board to deny the license.
In August 2010, NRC made a draft finding that the Comanche Peak expansion presents no environmental impacts that would preclude issuance of a license. The licensing process is still in its early stages, however, and challenges are sure to follow.
SOURCES: Luminant (http://www.luminant.com/news/newsrel/detail.aspx?prid=1115);
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/10/25/2575267/foes-of-comanche-peak-nuclear.html;
Last Updated: November 4, 2010