* US nuclear regulator action delays Florida units
* Pursuing 3-4 joint ventures in India
* CEO expects India, US to sign reprocessing deal soon (Adds details, India plans)
By C.J. Kuncheria
NEW DELHI, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Nuclear energy firm Westinghouse Electric, owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp (6502.T), said regulatory issues would delay the starting of two reactors it is building in Florida by 1-½ to 3 years.
Westinghouse is building the units for Progress Energy PGN.N, and they were originally planned to have come up in 2018. Work has been delayed as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would not allow the utility to start work at the sites before receiving a licence.
“They went to the NRC and wanted to have the right to start some work before they got the licence, but the NRC told them: no, because it is a green site,” Westinghouse Chief Executive Aris Candris told reporters in the Indian capital.
“As a result of that, they have pushed out the schedule for the units, for anywhere between 18 to 36 months from the original.”
The two units were expecting to receive a construction and operating license from the regulator in 2011.
A 2008 nuclear energy treaty between the United States and India has opened up the multi-billion dollar market for U.S. firms like Westinghouse and General Electric (GE.N).
However, the companies cannot do business until the two countries reach another agreement on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, putting U.S. firms at a disadvantage to French and Russian rivals such as Areva CEPFi.PA and Rosatom.
Candris, in India for an industry summit, met government officials to push for the deal. Discussions with officials indicated the talks were progressing well and people involved expected a deal in a matter of weeks, he said.
Also on his agenda was pursuing deals on equipment supplies and other services for Westinghouse’s local operations. The firm already has a tie-up with Larsen & Toubro (LART.BO), India’s top construction and engineering company.
“We’re in active discussions with three or four companies and close to signing with them,” said Meena Mutyala, business leader for Westinghouse in India. (Editing by John Mair)