Luminant to end work on license for new North Texas reactors

HOUSTON Fri Nov 8, 2013 6:53pm EST

HOUSTON Nov 8 (Reuters) - Dallas-based Luminant, a unit of privately held Energy Future Holdings Corp, will suspend work to obtain approval to build two new nuclear reactors in North Texas, the company said in a letter to regulators.

Citing a decision by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to shift its focus to the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan rather than U.S. nuclear development, Luminant officials "concluded that it does not make sense to continue to expend Luminant or NRC resources" on the license application for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4, according to a letter sent to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In 2008, Luminant filed an application with the NRC for two Mitsubishi 1,700-megawatt U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (APWR) to be built at the existing two-unit Comanche Peak nuclear station in North Texas.

The Mitsubishi design required NRC certification prior to Luminant obtaining a license to move forward to build the new reactors.

Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems this said it was committed to obtaining the NRC certification for its USAPWR design "under an extended schedule," according to a release.

Luminant's decision to suspend work on the new reactors follows similar action by other power companies.

With the high cost of nuclear construction, the low cost of natural gas and stagnating power demand, analysts expect no new reactors to be built in the United States for several years, other than those already under construction in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Earlier this year, Duke Energy, the largest U.S. electric utility, dropped plans to build new nuclear reactors, two in North Carolina and one in Florida, citing slow growth in power demand and regulatory delay.

Luminant is the largest power generating company in Texas. Its parent, Energy Future Holdings, is working to restructure debt taken on in a 2007 leveraged buyout.