NRC Green Lights South Texas Pipe Dream

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday granted permission to principle partner NRG Energy to construct two new nuclear power plants 90 miles southwest of Houston, Texas, although finances for the project appear to be worlds away.

South Texas Project NPPThe site for the two reactors would be the home of the South Texas Nuclear Generation Station, also known as the South Texas Nuclear Project.

David Knox, a spokesman for NRG, said that market conditions were “currently dominated by low natural gas prices.” He said financing a new nuclear power plant was “challenging.” The most recent NRG estimate for a two-reactor construction project is in the vicinity of $14 billion. As such, the company has said for years that market headwinds were prohibitive.

The South Texas Project is owned by NRG, Austin Energy and CPS Energy, which is based in San Antonio. The construction project, despite its current status as a pipe dream, is owned by a partnership called Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA), which is 90 percent NRG and 10 percent Toshiba.

NINA, meanwhile, controls 92.4 percent of the pipe dream. That was not always the case. CPS Energy previously owned 50 percent of the expansion project, but their support was diminished with a move to reduce their share to 7.6 percent, shifting more of the financing responsibility to NINA.

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