Nuke plant expansion role still on track

San Antonio’s municipal utility will wait until January before deciding whether it will continue to participate in the construciton of two more nuclear reactors outside Bay City, our sister paper the San Antonio Express-News reports.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro threatened to pull the plug on funding soon if he didn’t get some answers on cost overruns for the project. But CPS officials who just came back from Japan, where he discussed cost estimates with contractor Toshiba Inc., asked for the extra time.

[CPS Interim General Manager Steve Bartley] promised that the utility would put together a new cost estimate for the project and an analysis of alternatives if the utility opts out of nuclear expansion. Both will be complete by the end of the year. Bartley then will present his recommendation to the board two weeks later on Jan. 15.
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“Because I am satisfied that CPS is seriously preparing for alternatives, I think it’s prudent,” Mayor Castro said. “Our business partner has requested until Dec. 31 to deliver an official estimate and, given my confidence in our ability to pursue alternatives, I believe we should honor that request.”

Would the expansion of the South Texas Project come to a halt if CPS pulled out? Not likely.
Austin Energy, which along with CPS and NRG Energy is the other partner in the existing plant, already pulled out of the expansion partnership, which goes by the name Nuclear Innovation North America.
NINA has been shopping around Austin’s 20 percent stake in the expansion project for a few months (NRG and CPS each have 40 percent), and has previously said it will help CPS reduce its long-term stake in the expansion.
There are many efforts to expand existing nuclear power plants around the country, but only a few will go through in the next decade. The STP expansion is more-or-less first in line in the permitting process, so many of the failed project participants are likely interested in buying-in.

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