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South Texas Nuclear Project, Matagorda County, Texas

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Nuclear

OPPOSITION:  Public Citizen; South Texas Association for Responsible Energy (STARE), the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition

PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate

BACKGROUND:  In June 2006, NRG Energy, Inc. filed a letter of intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build two new nuclear reactors, Units 3 and 4, at the existing South Texas Project nuclear power station in Matagorda County, Texas.  On September 20, 2007, NRG and South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company filed a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) Application for the project with the NRC.  STP 3 and 4 would be Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) each capable of generating 1,350 megawatts of electricity (2,700 megawatts total), enough to power more than two million homes. 

The existing 12,220-acre site and 7,000-acre cooling reservoir in Matagorda County were originally designed for four units. The two new units will be built adjacent to the currently operating units 1 and 2.  NRG’s initial press release stated that “[t]he multibillion dollar investment is expected to generate more than $9 billion of economic benefit principally in the South Texas area, require 4,000 to 6,000 construction workers, and result in about 800 new operating staff positions at the plant.”  On December 12, 2008, the project received an ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Owners Certificate, fulfilling an NRC requirement for building new units.

NRG originally estimated that the project would cost $8.5 billion.  It raised its estimate to $12 billion in 2009, and again to $14 billion with financing in May 2010.  Some independent estimates have indicated that the project could cost $17 billion.

Opposition to the project by environmental groups has been fierce.  The NRC’s Atomic Safety Licensing Board granted intervenor status and an opportunity for a hearing to the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, and Public Citizen.

On December 6, 2009, the City of San Antonio sued the project’s developers, claiming $32 million in damages linked to the cost increases for the new plant.  On May 10, 2010, Tokyo Electric Power Company agreed to partner in the Units 3 and 4 expansion project.  NRG has also applied for a federal loan guarantee for the project. 

SOURCES:  NRC (http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/south-texas-project.html);
STP web site (http://www.stpnoc.com/milestones.htm);
Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/6999172.html);
Power Magazine (http://www.powermag.com/blog/index.php/2010/01/07/the-slouching-south-texas-nuclear-project/);
Public Citizen (http://www.citizen.org/documents/STNP%20Chronology.pdf;
Nuke Free Texas (http://www.nukefreetexas.org/pr_022009.html; http://nukefreetexas.org/2010/10/south-texas-project-new-nuclear-reactors-opposed/).

Last Updated:  November 10, 2010