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South Texas Project sees accomplishments in 2010, waits for loan guarantees

By adriana_acosta
Sept. 18, 2010 at 4:18 a.m.

The South Texas Project near Wadsworth has experienced accomplishments this year.

stp Milestones in 2010:

January - STP led all two-unit plants nationwide in production in 2009, for sixth consecutive year. It is on track to complete 2010 as national leader for seventh straight year, with projected production of 21.9 terawatt-hours (21,900,000 megawatt-hours) of generation this year.

March - STP surpasses 10 million labor-hours without a lost-time or restricted-duty accident.

May - The company completes its fourth consecutive accident-free refueling outage, maintaining a Total Safety Industrial Accident rate of 0 for 32 months. The Unit 2 reactor vessel head was replaced during the outage, which was finished ahead of schedule.

May - Matagorda County residents and officials express strong support for STP's new units during a Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearing in Bay City on the project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The federal officials gave their preliminary recommendation to issue a Combined Operating License for Units 3 and 4.

May - Tokyo Electric Power Company becomes a partner in the Units 3 and 4 project. TEPCO will acquire a nearly 20 percent share when the project receives a Department of Energy loan guarantee.

June - The company submitted a letter of intent to seek accreditation of a new training program for Units 3 and 4 plant and reactor operators. The letter to INPO was the first such industry request in 19 years.

June to August - Site preparations for Units 3 and 4 began. During the summer, three new buildings were built. Soil tests - needed in order to design the foundations of intake and discharge structures and circulating water piping for the new units - were conducted.

BAY CITY - South Texas Project, one of the nation's largest nuclear power plants, saw several significant milestones this year.

Its most recent milestone was in June as the nuclear power plant began preparations for addition of units 3 and 4.

During the summer, three new buildings were built.

The Metrology Laboratory and the Low Level Radioactive Waste building, which will be located on the east side of the site have begun construction.

Soil tests that are needed to design the foundations of intake and discharge structures and circulating water piping for the new units were conducted as well.

The success of the new building project is dependent upon receiving the Department of Energy loan guarantees, said Buddy Eller, director of communication for South Texas Project.

This, along with attracting additional investors and continuing to make the price tag for the overall project competitive is essential for the units to be built, he said.

"We are proud of the milestones we've reached and our accomplishments as a station," said Ed Halpin, president and chief operating officer of South Texas Project.

"I believe that we have one of the best teams in the industry at STP. But we are continuously focused on sustaining our performance long-term and producing energy to Texas homes and businesses in a safe, reliable manner."

South Texas Project remains one of the best locations in the country for expansion, said Eller.

When the facility was built 30 years ago, it was designed for four units, he said.

"We have the land, water, transmission and - most importantly - strong community support for Units 3 and 4," he added.

The plant officials anticipate an announcement on the loan guarantees by the end of this year or early next year.

"We are confident that our project will receive a conditional loan guarantee from the department of energy. It is a critical milestone in the life of this project," he said.

The Department of Energy has not yet decided when or how the $10 billion in the initial funding will be given.

In 2009, South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 were one of four selected as finalists for further evaluation in due diligence to receive loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, said Eller.

Projects selected were STP's Units 3 and 4, Southern's Vogtle expansion, SCANA's V.C. Summer project, and Constellation's Calvert Cliffs.

The Obama Administration, in an effort to assist in new nuclear projects, sent a proposal to congress for an additional $36 billion in loan guarantees for 2011.

"That is good news for our industry overall. We think that the administration sees the value in nuclear development nation wide," said Eller.

"This is a question of when," he said. "It could be this year or early next year. We are attempting to keep this project on track while adjusting to these variables."

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