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Exelon updates community on nuclear industry, proposed Victoria County project

By BY ALLISON MILES
July 28, 2010 at 2:28 a.m.

NAS_PHOTO_WORKING/072610/KRAY_MARILYN_072910KrayTo run with Exelon update story. Mug is in Common Mugs.

Exelon Nuclear Victoria project timeline

September 2008: Exelon submits Combined Operating Licensing Application to Nuclear Regulatory Commission

October 2008: NRC dockets COLA

November 2008: Exelon announces plans to change technology

July 2009: Exelon indicates plan to pursue Early Site Permit

March 2010: Exelon submits ESP to NRC

June 2010: NRC dockets ESP

June 2010: Exelon requests to withdraw COLA

July 2010: NRC accepts request to withdraw COLA

August 2010: NRC expected to issue a review schedule

Source: Marilyn Kray, vice president of nuclear project development for Exelon Generation

Exelon Nuclear still might bring a nuclear plant to Victoria County.

"We do not have a current plan to build at the Victoria site," said Marilyn Kray, with Exelon Generation. "However, we're looking to reserve that option by exercising that early site permit pathway in the NRC licensing process."

Kray presented an update on the nuclear industry and possible local nuclear plant Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's July luncheon.

An increased demand for electricity is likely coming in the future and nuclear energy is a strategic contributor to the power generation portfolio. It goes hand in hand with other sources, such as wind energy and natural gas, she said, explaining each method has its own ups and downs.

"There is no pretty way to make a megawatt," Exelon Generation's vice president of nuclear project development said.

The best way to go about it, she said, is to take safety and environmental issues into consideration.

The nuclear industry faces current challenges that make taking on large-scale projects difficult. Those include issues such as project financing, demand for an experienced labor force and design certification.

Economic issues also come into play, she said.

Natural gas prices have dropped, which is good for consumers, Kray said. For electricity companies hoping to turn a profit, however, it indicates now might not be the best time to build.

During a question-and-answer session, Ann Rachid asked Kray about the feasibility of building a plant directly on the water, to eliminate water availability issues that come into play with the Victoria site.

Such designs exist elsewhere but, upon reviewing the region, it did not seem to be the best option, Kray said.

Rachid attended the luncheon with concerns about whether the plant was good for the area and whether Exelon had decided to build.

Although she appreciated the update, Rachid said she didn't get all the information she hoped for.

Rebecca Gough, executive director of Nuclear Energy for Texans, attended the Wednesday event partly to get Exelon's point of view on the nuclear industry as a whole.

"We keep up with it, but individual plants can provide some really good information," she said.

Chamber President Randy Vivian said he was glad the event - which brought in about 170 people - was well attended. The proposed plant is an important topic for many Crossroads residents, he said.

"We're very much looking forward to seeing where Exelon goes from here," Vivian said. "And, as a chamber, we're hoping to see Exelon build in Victoria County."

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