This week Enercon Services Inc. will file its NuStart Energy nuclear power plant application, the third it has completed for customers in a year.
President John Richardson expects the Tulsa energy consulting firm will coordinate, with other firms, another client's bid this year and one next year. After that, Enercon plays a waiting game to see how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission handles these proposals.
While Enercon's two-year-old New Plant Services Division will shepherd the applications through the government red tape, Richardson and his staff expect it could take two or more years for power companies to crunch the numbers to see if nuclear power plant construction makes economic sense.
The market presents some interesting catch-22s. Environmental demands for greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner power systems lean strongly to the new, though unproven, generation of nuclear plants developed by Westinghouse and General Electric. The companies also may draw new regulations designed to streamline and speed up the application process.
Countering that: sometimes shaky commodity prices and continued rising construction prices, combined with fears the national credit crunch could extend into commercial real estate projects.
"There's still uncertainty on the pricing side," he said, speaking by phone from the Atlanta office. "Coming to terms with what the final price will be with these plants will be the deciding factor."
While he's confident construction will move forward, and that Enercon may be able to increase its 25-percent market share in developing such applications, Richardson expects revenue will drop this year from its $130 million mark in 2007 while the firm waits for a second plant construction wave to emerge. But the employee- owned network of 15 offices continues to expand at a rate of one to two a year, spurring 15-percent employment growth for its 650 work force.
He expects 10-percent growth at Oklahoma's two primary offices, which oversees environmental studies, and the Tulsa administrative headquarters. …