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NUCLEAR:

NRC chairman checks in on new reactors, lays groundwork for more

ATLANTA -- Wrapping up post-Fukushima safety enhancements, preparing for new and different reactor projects, and slimming down the agency are top priorities for the new chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Stephen Burns.

Speaking yesterday at NRC's Region II headquarters here, Burns said the agency should prepare to review applications for small modular reactors and for what he called the fourth generation, or advanced-generation reactors. Even if utilities don't file applications to build next-generations for more than a decade from now, having the technical expertise is necessary, Burns said.

"We've been talking with the industry about some of our preparedness as far as the technical evaluation criteria," said Burns, who started as NRC chairman Jan. 1.

"We don't quite know what the future is going to be like," he said, regarding new reactor projects.

NUCLEAR:

Exelon seeks low-carbon standard to aid its Ill. reactors

Illinois legislators within days are expected to propose a low-carbon energy standard aimed at helping prop up Exelon Corp.'s fleet of six nuclear plants, three of which have struggled to remain profitable in recent years.

The bill could be filed before the end of the week and would require 70 percent of electricity used in territories served by the state's two large investor-owned utilities to come from low-carbon sources of generation, according to a summary of the legislation circulated at the state Capitol yesterday.

NUCLEAR POLICY:

Industry cheers as DOE overhauls Reagan-era export rule

The Obama administration today issued a final rule for the export of commercial nuclear technology, marking a victory for industry executives and former regulators who warned the previous 1980s-era language was outdated and threatened to stymie sales abroad.

The Energy Department published a final rule in the Federal Register to update export regulations last revised in 1986. The rule will take effect March 25.

NUCLEAR:

Utility pushes for faster startup of S.C. reactor expansion

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. continues to negotiate a protracted construction schedule for its nuclear expansion project with vendors in hopes of pushing up the expected startup dates by at least a couple of months, executives said yesterday.

Regardless, the utility is preparing to tell state regulators that Unit 2 of the V.C. Summer nuclear project is going to start producing power in June of 2019, with Unit 3 following suit a year later.

CLIMATE:

EPA proposal dashed hopes of struggling nuclear operators

Rocked by waning demand and rising use of cheap natural gas for power generation, U.S. nuclear companies were tossed a possible lifeline last year by a top Department of Energy official.

Pete Lyons, DOE's assistant secretary for nuclear energy, warned a Washington, D.C., energy conference that a flurry of premature reactor closures -- a loss of carbon-free power -- could undermine U.S. efforts to curb emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

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About this report

The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has spawned a major nuclear disaster. E&E examines the implications for energy, the environment, security and public health.

Nuclear Nation

Scores of nuclear power reactors dot the United States. There are 103 reactors that are licensed to operate and 14 undergoing decommissioning. Many others are in planning stages; the four furthest along in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process are shown on this map. Click on a site icon for more details on the U.S. NRC website.

Proposed and expected to proceed to final NRC licensing

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