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Company News

UPDATE 3-Duke looks to build a nuclear power plant in Ohio

* Duke, Areva, UniStar and USEC form Ohio nuclear alliance

* Would power more than 1 million homes, businesses

* Areva seeks to supply the reactor for new Duke plant (Recasts)

NEW YORK, June 18 (Reuters) - Duke Energy Corp DUK.N is considering construction of a nuclear power reactor in Ohio -- the latest in a wave of planned new reactors in the United States -- Chief Executive Jim Rogers said on Thursday.

The reactor, which could produce thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars for local communities, would meet the region’s growing energy needs without producing greenhouse gases in what will likely soon be a carbon-constrained world.

To develop the project Duke has joined with French nuclear company Areva SA CEPFi.PA, U.S. uranium enrichment company USEC Inc USU.N and nuclear developer UniStar Nuclear Energy.

“We face the indisputable fact that our nation and our world are transitioning to a low-carbon future,” Rogers said at a news conference in Piketon, Ohio, where the reactor would be built.

“With the creation of this project, the partners in this alliance, the state of Ohio and our country, are edging a little further across the bridge to that future.”

Executives from each of the companies were joined by several Ohio politicians, including Governor Ted Strickland, at the conference.

The companies did not provide any timing or estimated costs for the project at the meeting with reporters.

To date, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received 17 applications to build 26 new reactors in the United States. The nuclear industry expects to have four new reactors in service by 2016 and as many as eight by 2018.

Duke, the third biggest nuclear power operator in the United States, will manage the project and serve as the applicant for any NRC licensing applications. Duke owns seven reactors at three sites and has applied to the NRC to build two new reactors in the Carolinas.

Areva would like to build its 1,600-megawatt Evolutionary Power Reactor at the site. The EPR would be able to power more than a million homes and businesses in Ohio.

UniStar, a joint venture between Baltimore power company Constellation Energy Group Inc CEG.N and French power company Electricite de France SA (EDF) EDF.PA, will provide Duke with licensing, construction and operating services. UniStar was formed to introduce Areva's EPR to the United States.

UniStar currently has EPR projects under development in Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York.

Using industry estimates of $4,000 per kilowatt, the new Ohio reactor would cost about $6.4 billion. Others considering the EPR have estimated costs as high as $10 billion.

REACTOR STILL YEARS AWAY

It will be years before any new reactor generates power in Ohio.

The NRC expects to take more than three years to make a decision after receiving an application to construct and operate a new reactor, and it would take three to five years to build the unit after getting an NRC license.

In Ohio, the companies said they planned to seek funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for the initial phase of the Duke project, which would include development of an Early Site Permit and review of site decommissioning plans.

The reactor would be built at the DOE’s Portsmouth site in Piketon, in Pike County, a 3,700-acre reservation that was used to enrich uranium until earlier in this decade. USEC is now building its new American Centrifuge Plant to enrich uranium at the site in southern Ohio.

Duke, of Charlotte, North Carolina, owns and operates about 39,000 MW of generating capacity in North America and Latin America, markets energy commodities, and transmits and distributes electricity to about 4 million U.S. customers in the Carolinas and the Midwest. (Additional reporting by Marie Maitre in Paris; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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