That project could lead to 8,000 jobs, nearly half of which would be for workers in this area.
USEC officials say they have addressed technical and financial concerns raised by DOE in its original denial of a request for a $2 billion loan guarantee.
USEC cited the number of AC100 Lead Cascade Machines with additional machines to be built in 2010, more than 480,000 machine hours accumulated in the test program, and plans to go forward to build the plant estimated at $2.8 billion from closing on a loan guarantee, in their late July filing.
“We have addressed, head on, each concern raised in the independent engineer’s report that was prepared for DOE last year,” John K. Welch, USEC president and chief executive officer, said. “The American Centrifuge program is much stronger today because of that sharp focus.”
After addressing the DOE concerns regarding testing, Welch talked about the private investment USEC has garnered.
“On the financial front, we have taken steps to reduce project-related risk factors and signed a definitive agreement for a three-phased investment of $200 million by industry leaders Toshiba Corporation and The Babcock & Wilcox Company. This investment and related strategic relationship strengthens USEC’s position in the nuclear fuel industry,” Welch said. “The relationship with Toshiba has opened the possibility of additional financing through Japanese export credit agencies, an option we are pursuing.”
Each company will invest $100 million in USEC, over three phases, each of which is subject to specific closing conditions. The first phase of $75 million from the strategic investment is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010 and will promote continued deployment of the ACP over the remainder of the year.
Welch talked about other DOE loan guarantees made recently, citing the fact that Southern Company has been offered and has accepted a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee of about $3.4 billion for two new power reactors at the Vogtle Plant, and Areva being offered and accepting a conditional commitment for $2 billion in financing to build an enrichment plant in Idaho.
“Areva, which is substantially owned by the French government, has stated they expect to receive a construction and operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the plant in 2011,” Welch’s correspondence with DOE said. “USEC began building its plant in May 2007 after receipt of a NRC construction and operating license but has demobilized plant construction due to uncertainty of funding to complete the plant.”
Welch said USEC continues to work with suppliers to refine their estimates and seek reductions in the project cost. He said the company anticipates it will require 18 to 24 months to begin initial commercial operations upon receiving financing. And they anticipate it will require 30 to 36 months to complete the plant after initial commercial operations.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or email@example.com