September 18, 2008
Detroit Edison Submits Application for Possible New Nuclear Plant
DETROIT, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Detroit Edison officials today submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission a Combined License Application for a possible new nuclear power plant at the site of the company's existing nuclear plant near Newport, Mich.
"It is satisfying to reach this significant milestone, which is necessary if we are to maintain the option of building a nuclear power plant to help Michigan meet both its growing need for electricity and its environmental goals," said Anthony F. Earley Jr., DTE Energy chairman and CEO. Detroit Edison is a subsidiary of DTE Energy. "By filing the application now, Detroit Edison maintains eligibility for a portion of $6 billion in tax credits should the plant be built. The value of these tax credits would be passed directly on to our customers," Earley said.Ron May, DTE Energy senior vice president, major enterprise projects, said the completed application required more than 100,000 man-hours of work over the last two years by Detroit Edison and contractor personnel with a broad range of technical expertise. "We are confident that we have compiled a thorough and comprehensive application and we look forward to the licensing review," May said.
The license application is based on the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy ESBWR (Economic, Simplified Boiling Water Reactor), an advanced-design boiling water reactor that produces about 1,500 megawatts. Detroit Edison decided to base its application on that design after thoroughly evaluating numerous criteria, including safety and cost.
The NRC estimates that it could take up to four years to review the application and issue a license. The first step is to conduct a preliminary acceptance review to verify that the application is complete and includes all necessary information. That initial acceptance review should be complete within 60 days.
The completed application comprises the equivalent of about 17,000 8 1/2-by-11 pages. While the application was submitted in electronic form, if it were printed on regular copy paper it would produce a stack of paper measuring eight-feet in height.
Earley said that while Detroit Edison looks forward to review and approval of the license application, changes to the state's regulatory structure are necessary to provide the certainty needed to support the significant investment necessary to build a new power plant. "As Michigan is faced with the need for new power plants, we continue to find ourselves with a hybrid market structure that places the state's utilities in a partially regulated old-model and a partially competitive new-model," he said. "This structure fails to provide the certainty required for power plant investment that is critical to Michigan's future. Investors want reasonable assurance that these large investments can be recovered."
While taking the steps necessary to maintain the option of building a new nuclear power plant, Detroit Edison is also moving ahead with plans for renewable energy resources and an aggressive energy efficiency program. "The company's immediate focus is to maximize energy efficiency programs and develop cost-effective renewable generation," Earley said. "But in the long run, Michigan still will need new base load power plants. We will never run an auto assembly line or a cold-rolled steel mill using windmills or solar panels. You need big, base load nuclear and coal power plants to keep them running."
Environmental factors dictate that nuclear power must be included among the options to meet future demand for power. "With mounting evidence of the negative impact of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, nuclear power is an attractive alternative to fossil-fuel generation," Earley said. "Nuclear power plants do not emit any greenhouse gases or controlled air pollutants."
Cost is another critical consideration. Detroit Edison is committed to providing its customers with the lowest-cost sources of power. "Our analysis so far shows that nuclear power will, over the long term, be the most cost- effective base load option for our customers," Earley said. "And our analysis indicates the ESBWR, compared to the other advanced reactor designs, will have the lowest cost over its full lifecycle. We expect nuclear to remain the low- cost option but we will continue to evaluate nuclear against other resources and will commit to proceeding with construction only at the right time and at the right cost."
The ESBWR's extensive use of advanced safety features, which rely on natural forces such as gravity and convection, was another significant factor in the decision. Also, several of the country's largest nuclear utility companies have also selected the ESBWR for their license applications. That provides an opportunity for Detroit Edison and the other companies to further increase efficiency and reduce costs by cooperating on worker training, sharing construction and operating experience, and jointly managing supplies of components and specialized equipment.
Detroit Edison is an investor-owned electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a subsidiary of DTE Energy , a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Information about DTE Energy is available at http://www.dteenergy.com/ .
CONTACT: John Austerberry, +1-313-235-8859, or Lorie N. Kessler,+1-313-235-8807, both of Detroit Edison
Web site: http://www.dteenergy.com/