ST. LOUIS, July 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AmerenUE, a Missouri-based utility subsidiary of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), announced the company submitted today a combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a potential new nuclear power plant in Callaway County, Mo.
The 8,000-page application seeks regulatory approvals to potentially build a new 1,600-megawatt pressurized water reactor adjacent to AmerenUE's existing nuclear unit, Callaway Plant, located 10 miles from Fulton, Mo. A plant with a strong safety record, AmerenUE's single-unit, 1,190-megawatt Callaway electric generating plant accounts for 19 percent of the company's total generation. Since the Callaway Plant came on line in December 1984, it has achieved the fourth highest generation output among the nation's 104 nuclear power units.
Although AmerenUE has made no decision to build a second nuclear power plant at this time, seeking NRC approval and a license will preserve the nuclear option for the future. It also will place the company in a position to seek nuclear-specific federal loan guarantees and production tax credits, made possible by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The regulatory process for a COLA involves a comprehensive review, estimated by the NRC to require up to 42 months for completion. The NRC will determine the actual review schedule after the agency completes its acceptance review of the AmerenUE application. The NRC will issue a press release when the application is available electronically on the NRC Web site-- http://www.nrc.gov/.
"Given projections for a nearly 30 percent increase in demand for power in Missouri in the next two decades, we believe we will need to build a large generating plant to be on line in the 2018-2020 timeframe," says Thomas R. Voss, president and chief executive officer of AmerenUE. "We are committed to taking the most cost-effective and prudent approach to supplying this power. Part of acting strategically to secure our customers' future energy needs is engaging in the licensing process for a nuclear power plant -- a process that takes several years to complete. In effect, applying for a license now better positions AmerenUE to build -- should that eventually make sense for our customers."
"We realize no one technology can be the only answer for providing environmentally sensitive, reliable energy," adds Voss. "We will continue to encourage the development of renewable resources. We are launching a range of new energy efficiency programs to help customers reduce consumption and to reduce demand on our system. But going forward, we will also need nuclear energy from our existing Callaway unit, and possibly from a second unit at Callaway, to be a part of our mix of diverse energy resources. We view this application as one of many steps we are taking to secure Missouri's energy future."
The company's decision on whether to build depends on a number of factors, including:
-- the forecasted demand for power; -- the effectiveness of energy efficiency initiatives; -- the projected costs and financing challenges of building an advanced nuclear power plant or any large-scale plant, compared to building facilities powered by other fuels or developing renewable resources; and -- state and federal regulatory and legislative actions.
AmerenUE is pursuing the option of building a nuclear energy plant because the generation of nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases or air emissions, making the nuclear option part of AmerenUE's portfolio approach for meeting its environmental goals in a carbon-constrained world.
With this application, AmerenUE has joined other utilities in selecting the advanced U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), designed by AREVA, an experienced manufacturer with nuclear operations worldwide. The EPR is the first Generation III+ reactor design being built to answer the world's growing demand for clean and reliable electricity generation. Four EPRs are being built today including one in Finland (2011 completion), one in France (2012 completion), and two in China (2013/14 completion). The EPR design offers many advances in nuclear plant design that improve upon the already proven safety, reliability and efficiency of existing nuclear power plants. (See http://www.areva-np.com/ or http://www.ameren.com/Callaway/ for more on the design.)
In 2007, AmerenUE announced that the company had signed an agreement with UniStar Nuclear Energy to help prepare a COLA. The mission of UniStar Nuclear Energy is to help develop, license, construct and operate new, standardized nuclear units. UniStar Nuclear Energy was formed in 2007 as a strategic joint venture between Constellation Energy and EDF Group, a global leader in nuclear power that owns and operates 58 nuclear reactors in France and is currently constructing its 59th plant -- an EPR design in Flamanville, France.
St. Louis-based AmerenUE serves 1.2 million electric and natural gas customers in Missouri. The Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and nearly one million natural gas customers across 64,000 square miles of Missouri and Illinois.
Certain statements in this release relate to future events and expectations and, as such, constitute forward-looking statements involving known and unknown factors that may cause actual results to be different from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. In this context, words such as "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "plans," "believes," "seeks," "will," or other similar words and phrases often identify forward-looking statements. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking statements: regulatory or legislative actions, including changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations; changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policies; the effects of increased competition in the future due to, among other things, deregulation of certain aspects of our business at both the state and federal levels, and the implementation of deregulation; the effects of participation in the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc; the availability of fuel, such as enriched uranium used to produce electricity; the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities, including the ability to recover the costs for such commodities; business and economic conditions, including their impact on interest rates; disruptions of the capital markets or other events that make access to necessary capital more difficult or costly; actions of credit rating agencies and the effects of such actions; and legal and administrative proceedings. Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events, or otherwise.
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