The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to load fuel and perform low-power testing of the Watts Bar nuclear plant. The low-power license will allow the 1,160-megawatt Unit 1 to operate at 5 percent of capacity. The license verifies that Watts Bar construction is complete, and that all safety and environmental requirements have been met. A license to operate at full power may be granted once the fuel loading and low-power testing is complete. Commercial operation is anticipated for spring 1996.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has imposed a $600,000 civil penalty on Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) for six violations at the Salem Nuclear Generating Station. PSE&G, which owns and operates 42.59 percent of the plant, responded by shutting Salem down temporarily.
"We take no issue with the concerns raised by the NRC," says Leon R. Eliason, PSE&G chief nuclear officer and president of its nuclear business.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on October 17 ruled that plaintiffs claiming injuries related to the 1979 accident at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant (TMI-2) may seek punitive damages. Plaintiffs may receive compensatory and punitive damages under the Price-Anderson Act from: 1) primary financial protection provided through commercial insurance policies, which is required of all nuclear utilities; and 2) secondary financial protection in the form of private liability insurance under an industry retrospective rating plan.
With this issue I've finished up my first 12 months as full-time editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY. During that time, I've tried to adhere to few simple rules. If I'm lucky, I'm batting four out of five:
s Trust ideas, not facts
s Welcome different views
s Don't shy from difficult subjects
s Make it easy to read
s Take a day off now and then.
Someone once said that an editor's job is twofold: "Simplify and exaggerate." That advice may sound peculiar, but one could do worse.
Last year was pivotal for nuclear power. On May 13, 1994, the board of directors of the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) voted 9-4 to terminate reactors WNP-1 and WNP-3, triggering a dismantling of the two mothballed reactors, both about 70 percent complete. For ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest, the decision offered no relief from bills for construction of the two plants (em recently estimated at about $350 million per year for the next 24 years1. In many ways, WPPSS and its troubled history is a microcosm of the U.S.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has amended its regulations on nuclear plant license renewal to provide a "more stable and predictable regulatory process." The amended regulations will enhance the credibility of the NRC's existing regulatory oversight process and licensee maintenance programs by narrowing the number of systems, structures, and components that must be reviewed during the renewal process. Operating licenses are granted for periods up to 40 years, and may be renewed for 20 more if NRC requirements are met.
All versions of the "revolution" in the electric power industry seem to turn on the prospect of competition in generation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) decision approving the VSC-24 concrete cask for storing spent nuclear fuels. The generic approval of the technology permitted Consumers Power Co. to construct dry cask facilities at its Palisades nuclear project and begin loading spent fuel. The State of Michigan and owners of land near the Palisades plant claimed that the Atomic Energy Act required the NRC to hold hearings to consider site-specific issues.
By Wallace Edward BrandWallace Edward Brand practices law in his own firm in Washington, DC, where he represents small electric systems.
On December 12, 1994, Craven Crowell, chairman of the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), issued two well-publicized announcements. First, TVA would not finish three of the nuclear units it has had under construction since the 1970s, unless it could find partners willing to share their construction costs (a prospect he subsequently characterized as "very slim,").1 Second, TVA planned to set an internal cap on its total debt at a level $2 to $3 billion below the $30-billion limit imposed by the Congress.