Westinghouse Chief Decries Hurdles Facing Nuclear Power Plants

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Power companies that need federal loan guarantees to build nuclear power plants are stymied by government regulations that are "too cumbersome and too time-consuming," with financing fees that are "too difficult to arrive at," the CEO of Westinghouse Electric Co. said yesterday.

Westinghouse's Aris Candris said problems with the federal loan guarantee process have not had an impact on Westinghouse's six projects to build nuclear power plants in the United States.

Attention focused on the Department of Energy loan guarantees and the Office of Management and Budget's computation of loan fees last week when Constellation Energy Corp. announced a decision to pull out of the loan program for a proposed nuclear power plant in Maryland.

The future of the multibillion-dollar Calvert Cliffs 3 plant project is unclear after Constellation Energy said it would drop out over risks linked to the high cost of a $7.5 billion loan guarantee.

Southern Co. received $8.2 billion in loan guarantees for two nuclear plants that will cost $14 billion to build near Waynesboro, Ga., using Westinghouse's AP1000 design.

Westinghouse has contracts for the construction of four other nuclear power plants in the United States -- including two by Scana Corp. near Columbia, S.C., and two by Georgia Power's project near Augusta, Ga. -- that remain in the loan guarantee pipeline, Candris said before a speech at Carnegie Mellon University.

Westinghouse has been selected for the designer of 14 of 22 U.S. nuclear power plant construction projects proposed.

Candris said he believes the nuclear power industry will grow and provide more than 20 percent of the nation's electricity needs, but that it has been hurt by the economics of power generation. …