Dominion again picks GE-Hitachi for proposed Virginia reactor

WILMINGTON, North Carolina, April 26 Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:51pm EDT

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WILMINGTON, North Carolina, April 26 (Reuters) - Dominion Resources Inc has notified U.S. regulators it restored GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's ESBWR as the technology for the proposed North Anna 3 nuclear power plant at an existing nuclear plant in Virginia.

That decision reverses the Virginia-based power company's 2010 decision to replace the General Electric technology with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd's U.S. Advanced Pressurized-Water Reactor technology.

The progress GE Hitachi has made refining its ESBWR, or Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, design and its competitive commercial offering "provide the best overall profile for the (central Virginia) project," Dominion told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a letter on Thursday.

GE Hitachi will engineer the ESBWR design specifically for Dominion's North Anna site, GE spokesman Christopher White said on Friday.

The site is located near the epicenter of the August 2011 earthquake that damaged the Washington Monument.

The company will also guide Dominion through the licensing process under a multi-year contract with its Dominion Virginia Power utility subsidiary, providing about 70 jobs at GE Nuclear's headquarters north of Wilmington.

Fluor Corp said late Thursday it would provide project development services for the proposed reactor.

This is not a commitment to build a reactor, White pointed out. Dominion would decide whether to build a reactor after it receives an operating license.

Fluor said once Dominion receives federal permission to proceed, expected in 2015, and decides whether to build the unit, Fluor will build the facility.

David Durham, chief commercial officer for GE Hitachi, said the NRC is nearing the end of its process of certifying the ESBWR for use in U.S. plants, adding certification could come by early next year. That's two and a half years later than company officials projected in 2011, when the NRC cleared the reactor's safety evaluation report and design.

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