Cost of new nukes still pending

We should have a much better idea of the cost of the two new nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project by the end of the year, NRG Energy CEO David Crane told our colleagues at the San Antonio Express-News yesterday:

That’s when NRG and its partner, San Antonio’s CPS Energy, hope to have a fixed baseline cost hammered out with Toshiba Inc. to build two new reactors outside Bay City.
“That is … the one that counts,” Crane said during a visit to San Antonio on Monday. “It’s not just an estimate. It’s actually a negotiation at the same time.”

The earliest cost estimates were around $5 billion. CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility, recently estimated the cost at $13 billion. Steve Winn, chief executive of Nuclear Innovation North America, NRG’s development arm in partnership with Toshiba, floated a number of $10 billion this year.
Opponents of the expansion say the costs are going to be much higher than previous predictions of more than $5 billion, and could top $20 billion.
The plant is closer to Houston than San Antonio, but since the Houston area no longer has a single electric provider residents here won’t be on the hook (at least directly) for the costs of the expansion. Here’s a link to the Express-News’ ongoing coverage.
CPS Energy has spent $276 million on nuclear planning and engineering, approved another $100 million for it yesteday and is expected to go to the City Council next month and ask for permission to issue bonds for $400 million for the project.
In other NRG Texas news today, the company said it’s applying for federal research money for its previously announced plan to test carbon capture equipment to the massive W.A. Parish coal power plant south of Houston. The funds come from the Clean Coal Power Initiative.
NRG is now working with different companies for the test project (New Hampshire-based Powerspan is out, Fluor is in), and the amount it will capture is relatively small, about 500,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivelant of a 60 megawatt plant. The company is also joining the recently-formed National Carbon Capture Center.
What’s it going to do with that CO2? It plans to sell it to local oil field owners to use in enhanced oil recovery. There may even be a CO2 pipeline going nearby in the future to hook into.