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Exelon backs Ill. carbon bill -- but not the one greens wanted

Exelon Corp. is urging the Illinois General Assembly to price power-sector carbon emissions, but to do so in a way that won't make environmentalists happy.

The nuclear giant, which has long been searching for a way to secure state funding to keep its six-unit Illinois nuclear fleet online, threw its support yesterday to legislation -- Senate Bill 1585 and House Bill 3293 -- that would create a low-carbon portfolio standard.


As new reactors are built, even small changes get lengthy federal vetting

A change request for a calculation related to inorganic zinc coating has taken more than a year and required dozens of pieces of paperwork.

This particular coating will protect against corrosion at two nuclear reactors currently being built in southeast Georgia, so this is more than just tinkering with high-level math and science.

Georgia Power, which is building twin reactors at the Plant Vogtle nuclear site, can't use another calculation method, even if the utility knows that it would meet the same standards. It first must get an OK from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

More than three dozen of these formal design changes have happened, or are pending, at Plant Vogtle. They include everything from updating new regulatory safety requirements, signing off on editorial changes in a document or, in the case of the inorganic zinc, switching a design calculation.


Exelon, critics gird for battle as pro-nuclear bill is filed in Ill.

The stage is set for an energy policy showdown in Illinois after lawmakers from both parties introduced a bill aimed at aiding three Exelon Corp. nuclear plants that have struggled in recent years in the face of increasing competition from wind energy and natural-gas-fired generation.

The legislation filed in the House and Senate would replace the Illinois renewable energy standard with a low-carbon portfolio standard requiring 70 percent of electricity used in areas served by large investor-owned utilities to come from low-carbon sources of generation.


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 Nation

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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


Japanese Response

Nuclear Policy



U.S. Reactors

Public Response