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a cost significantly less the than the estimate-an overnight cost of about $1,500/kW expressed in 2002 dollars for a single-unit facility. Assuming the cost of the second unit is 15 percent less than the first, this would translate into an average cost for a two-unit facility of around $1,400/kW.
In our analysis, we assumed a new nuclear plant could be in place no earlier than 2010, reflecting a six-year lead-time. As a point of comparison, the assumes a lead time of five years for a new nuclear plant.
At the cost-estimate level, we found new nuclear plants would be economic only under the Carper proposal, in conjunction with high gas prices.
The prospects for the installation of new nuclear plants could improve dramatically if the vendor's estimate proves accurate. Single unit plants would be economic under the Carper proposal with expected gas prices. At higher gas prices, single unit plants would be economic under current regulations as well as under the CSA proposal. Two-unit nuclear plants, however, would be economic under all of the cases we have considered.
The availability of an economic nuclear option has very little effect, however, on the timing of new capacity requirements. If an economic nuclear option were available, it would displace primarily combined-cycle plants but relatively little new coal capacity. In all cases, we assumed a new generation of nuclear plants would achieve a 90 percent equivalent availability, which is consistent with recent performance by the fleet of existing nuclear plants.
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