Maryland and Calvert County have proposed $200 million in financial incentives to persuade a national energy consortium to select Southern Maryland as the site of what could become the first nuclear energy reactor built in the United States in 30 years, state officials said.
The proposal was electronically submitted Monday to NuStart Energy Development LLC, the consortium that is considering the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby as one of six possible sites for a new type of advanced reactor.
James E. Rzepkowski, an assistant secretary for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said the 51-page proposal included a loan guarantee of up to $100 million from the state and an additional $100 million in tax deferrals and grants from Calvert County and the state.
He said the loan guarantee, which would be the largest in the state's history, was fitting for a project whose estimated cost of $1.5 billion to $2 billion would make it the state's largest capital project.
"A $2 billion project doesn't come along every day," he said.
The project would generate about 250 to 400 permanent jobs and an additional 2,000 to 3,000 jobs during the construction phase.
The reactor could also generate more than $16 million in new property taxes for Calvert, said Terry L. Shannon, the county's director of administration and finance.
"This project has tremendous benefits for the county, the region and the state," said Linda S. Vassallo, director of the Calvert County Department of Economic Development.
The existing power plant is already the largest taxpayer and private employer in Calvert County. It paid $15.3 million in property taxes last year -- almost 10 percent of the county's revenue -- and employs about 1,000 workers.
Vassallo said the creation of high-paying jobs is particularly important in Calvert, where about 60 percent of the workforce commutes to jobs outside of the county every day. She said that eliminating those commutes would help reduce congestion on the county's roads.
Aris Melissaratos, Maryland secretary of Business and Economic Development, said the main benefit of the project would be the environmentally friendly energy that the new reactor would create for Maryland and the rest of the country. Calvert Cliffs produces 20 percent of the state's electricity.
"We're not going after this because of the jobs," Melissaratos said. "The primary objective is clean energy."
NuStart plans to apply to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for licenses to build and operate plants at two of the six sites under review. It expects to announce the two sites by Oct 1. The consortium, made up of nine energy companies that operate more than half of the nation's existing nuclear plants, was formed to deal with the financial risks involved in pursuing a license for a nuclear plant. Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, which owns Calvert Cliffs, is among the members.
The consortium asked state and local government at the six sites to submit information by Monday explaining why their communities would be ideal locations for a new nuclear reactor.
Vassallo declined to discuss any details of Calvert County's proposed financial incentives. "We're in a competitive stage right now, and we don't want to tip our hats to other jurisdictions," she said.
Rzepkowski said the county was considering waving part of the property taxes that would usually be paid on a nuclear reactor.
"It can be waved for five years, 10 years. . . . It can be waved for the rest of time," he said.
State and local officials emphasized that the financial incentives in the proposal submitted Monday are not binding.
The loan guarantee would require approval by the General Assembly, and any deferral of local taxes would require approval from the Board of County Commissioners.
"Nothing is in stone or concrete right now other than the state's willingness to explore all these decisions," Rzepkowski said.