NRC sets up task force to review US nuclear plants 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has named six senior managers and staff to its task force for examining the agency’s regulatory requirements, programmes, processes, and implementation in light of information from the Fukushima Daiichi site in Japan.

According to the charter, the task force will conduct a near-term review and identify topics for assessment for a longer term review. A written report is expected to be made public 90 days after the start of the review.

Initially, the task force will identify potential near-term actions that affect US power reactors, including their spent fuel pools. Areas to be reviewed include station blackout (the loss of all A/C power for a reactor), external events that could lead to a prolonged loss of cooling, plant capabilities for preventing or dealing with such circumstances, and emergency preparedness.

The task force plans to brief the commission in public meetings on the status of the review on 12 May and 16 June. 

SNC-Lavalin lands Muskrat Falls hydro project Phase 1 contract 

SNC-Lavalin has been picked by Nalcor Energy to deliver engineering, procurement and construction management services for Phase 1 of the Lower Churchill Project in Newfoundland and Labrador – the 824 MW Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Development.

The transmission system project will include 1200 km of high voltage direct current (HVDC) overhead lines, sub-sea cables and converter stations, as well as high voltage alternating current (HVAC) overhead transmission lines.

Tepco anticipates difficulties for its partipation in South Texas project

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said it would be difficult to continue working to develop a Texas nuclear reactor in a joint venture between NRG Energy Inc. and Toshiba Corp.

“On the South Texas project, I think there are questions in the United States about whether it should be continued, and we, too, have financial difficulties,” Tokyo Electric Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Work was reported to have halted on the $10bn project in March. Tepco agreed to invest $155m for a 10 per cent share in units 3 and 4. 

Panama awards five wind licences totalling 565 MW 

Panama’s national public services regulator Asep has awarded five definitive wind power generation licences totalling 565 MW.

The two licensees are Fersa, for the 225 MW Toabre and 105 MW Anton projects, and Union Eolica Panamena, for the 169 MW Nuevo Chagres and 48 MW Portobelo projects.

All the five projects are in the final design stage, except for Toabre, which is under construction and scheduled to begin operations in October. Anton is slated to come on line in March 2012 and Union Eolica’s projects in March 2013.

Another 14 wind projects totalling 1.4 GW are under evaluation by the regulator. 

Constellation Energy signs federal deal 

Constellation Energy has entered an Energy Saving Agreement (ESA) aimed at helping the US Department of State contribute to hitting a federal-wide 28 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Under the ESA Constellation will provide an estimated 120 000 MWh each year to the State Department and other federal facilities.

The deal will also encourage development of renewable energy facilities. Constellation Energy plans to construct a $50m solar farm in New Jersey by mid-2012 and to purchase power from a wind facility to be developed in Pennsylvania. 

Feasibility studies on 6.1 GW Brazil dam extended 

Feasibility studies for the 6.1 GW Sao Luiz do Tapajos hydro project will now conclude in May 2012, said a spokesman for Eletrobas, according to BNAmericas.

“Electrobas and its partners in the studies asked for more time,” he said. “Eletrobas believes it might be possible to raise the installed capacity of this plant.”

Sao Luiz do Tapajos will be the largest plant in the planned 10.6 GW Tapajos hydro complex. 

••• 

Bolivia: State power company Ende plans BOB497m ($71m) in project investment over 2011, mainly financed by IDB, with hydro slated for 48 per cent and transmission 33 per cent.

Canada: Hydro-Quebec has cleared a final hurdle to the $6.5bn Romaine River hydro project by closing a $125m deal with the Uashat ManiUtenam Quebec Innu community.

Canada: Sifab Ontario Inc has signed with Alderville First Nation to build and support a 5 MW solar PV farm with 20 410 modules due to operate by November 2011.

Ecuador: Design work is continuing for state generator Elecaustro’s Minas de Huascachaca wind project, which would feature 20, 1.5 MW turbines on a site 84 km southwest of Cuenca city.

Peru: Samay I and a Cobra-Enersa consortium have qualified as bidders for a 200 MW reserve plant planned for Eten in the northern Lambayesque region. The winners will have 32 months to install the plant.

Peru: Distributor Luz del Sur plans to start constructing its Santa Teresa 98 MW run-of-river hydroelectric plant during 2011. Construction is due to take three and a half years.

USA: Nordex has entered a joint venture with Beebe Community Wind Farm LLC to develop and build a 300 MW wind farm in Gratiot County, Michigan, which will consist of 125, N117-2.4 MW Nordex turbines, tailored for low wind sites.

USA: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s ESBWR reactor design has won final design approval (FDA) from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, clearing the way for final design certification in the autumn of 2011.

USA: Georgia Power has requested decertification for units 1 and 2 at its Plant Branch to take 569 MW of coal fired generation off line, citing the impact of environmental regulations on its costs. 

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