Calvert Cliffs Reactor 3 Project Revived

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (October 28, 2010)—A late night deal announced Tuesday between UniStar partners Constellation Energy and French nuclear plant operator EDF may help save plans to build a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby.

The deal essentially hands Constellation’s half ownership in the UniStar partnership to EDF, putting the future of the third reactor project in its charge, though EDF must still find a U.S. partner per federal law to move ahead with the project. Constellation also dropped its bid to force EDF to buy fossil fuel plants as part of the original agreement.

Constellation recently announced it would pull out of the federal loan guarantee process, citing prohibitive costs of $880 million that would kill the viability of the project, leading to fears that the entire project could be scuttled.

Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said that his organization was lobbying the Obama administration to get better rates on the loan guarantee to finance the project.

“These are important projects… the numbers that OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is talking about is just ridiculous,” Kerekes said.

The third reactor project has been touted as a net job multiplier for both St. Mary’s and Calvert counties by bringing up to 4,000 construction jobs and 400 more permanent jobs to run the finished reactor facility and had become a political football between both parties regionally in a tense election season.

State House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) said that the agreement was a positive step but that EDF still had a long way to go in making the third reactor a reality.

“To me it clearly is not necessarily a saving of this deal but maintains the third reactor at Calvert Cliffs on life support,” O’Donnell said. “It shouldn’t be heralded as a triumph.”

Both Gov. Martin O’Malley and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md-5th) have issued statements commending both sides for reaching the agreement. Both EDF and Constellation, which have partnered to operate five existing plants, will still own and operate Calvert Cliffs as Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG).

A joint press release stated that EDF will acquire Constellation’s UniStar interest for $140 million and will also receive from Constellation potential nuclear reactor sites in New York at Nine Mile Point and R.E. Ginna.

Constellation will still hold 50.01 percent of stock in CENG while EDF will hold on to 49.99 percent of the partnership. As part of the agreement EDF will transfer 3.5 million shares of stock it owns back to Constellation and will give up its seat on the Constellation board.

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