US sets vote on 1st nuclear reactor since 1978
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2012, 23:06
Washington: US regulators are considering a plan to build the nation's first nuclear power plant in a generation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is set to vote today on Southern Co.'s request to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

If approved, the USD 14 billion reactors could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

The planned reactors are the remnants of a once- anticipated building boom that the power industry dubbed the "nuclear renaissance."

President Barack Obama and other proponents say greater use of nuclear power could cut the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for global warming.

A new government permitting process strongly encourages utilities to use pre-approved reactor designs rather than building custom models, a strategy intended to make construction easier and less expensive.

Obama has offered the Vogtle project USD 8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as part of its pledge to expand nuclear power.

The once hoped-for boom has been plagued by a series of problems, from the prolonged economic downturn to the sharp drop in the price of natural gas, due in part to improved drilling techniques that have allowed energy companies to tap previously unavailable underground shale formations.


First Published: Thursday, February 09, 2012, 23:06

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