- Dominion Energy continues to advance plans for a proposed third nuclear reactor at its North Anna facility in Virginia, even as financial difficulties have imperiled construction of other projects in the region.
- Southeast Energy News reports federal regulators last week determined that with some "structural changes" to guard against earthquake damage, the proposed reactor could be approved.
- Dominion's interest in constructing a new nuclear reactor comes as Westinghouse Electric Co., the nuclear engineering firm overseeing construction facilities in Georgia and South Carolina, prepares to file for bankruptcy at the end of this month.
Dominion has not committed to building a third unit at North Anna—so far the utility appears to be keeping its options open in pursuing the license—but despite uncertainty in the industry and objections from clean energy advocates, the project is chugging along.
But recent bad news within the nuclear sector shows signs of upheaval and uncertainty.
Toshiba recently announced a $6 billion writedown at its Westinghouse subsidiary, which is managing construction of new nuclear generation at the Vogtle plant in Georgia and V.C. Summer in South Carolina. Reuters reports Westinghouse could file for bankruptcy as early as today.
MIT Technology Review believes a Westinghouse bankruptcy means an end to new nuclear construction in the United States. The news outlet also reports analysts doubt Toshiba will find a buyer for its stake in Westinghouse, nor any construction partners willing to forge ahead with the nuclear plants it planned to build.
The Vogtle and VC Summer plants are years behind schedule and costs are mounting. Development of those plants will likely continue, but within the industry there has been speculation that if Westinghouse fails, it will likely spell the end of new nuclear development for the time being.
In Virginia, Dominion is spending upwards of $600 million to obtain approval from the federal government. Long-term costs could exceed $19 billion, with the project possibly taking until 2029 to complete. The utility could spend $2 billion in just the planning stages alone. Dominion would use a new kind of nuclear design developed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.