Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant was yanked off a short list of potential sites for a new nuclear reactor last week, but its owner formed a joint venture that said it would strongly consider building another reactor at the facility.
The Lusby plant was one of six sites that a national energy consortium was considering for what could be the first nuclear energy reactor built in the United States in 30 years. The group, NuStart Energy Development LLC, plans to seek licenses from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate reactors at two sites.
NuStart officials expected to announce the selection of the two sites by Oct. 1. Local and state officials were eagerly hoping Calvert Cliffs would be one of the plants chosen.
That changed last week when Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, which owns Calvert Cliffs, announced the formation of a joint venture with Areva, a French-owned nuclear company, to develop and operate reactors. Constellation withdrew the plant from consideration as a NuStart site but said its partnership, UniStar Nuclear, would consider Calvert Cliffs as a site.
"We did not consider it appropriate for Calvert Cliffs to be considered by the NuStart consortium because we think it's more appropriate for UniStar to consider it," said Michael J. Wallace, president of Constellation's Generation Group and co-chief executive officer of UniStar.
He said the partnership would select the sites for a reactor by September 2006. If all goes according to plan, construction would begin by 2010, and units would go online by 2015.
Wallace said the week's developments would have no impact on the likelihood of a reactor being constructed at the Southern Maryland facility.
"It does not diminish Calvert Cliffs' potential to be considered for a new nuclear plant," he said.
State and local officials have been enthusiastic supporters of a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs; this summer they proposed $200 million in financial incentives to persuade NuStart to choose the site.
The project, whose estimated cost is $1.5 billion to $2 billion, would generate about 250 to 400 permanent jobs and an additional 2,000 to 3,000 jobs during the construction phase, officials said. 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.
The existing power plant is the largest taxpayer and private employer in Calvert County. It employs about 1,000 workers and paid $15.3 million in property taxes last year, which is almost 10 percent of the county's revenue.
Staff researchers Bobbye Pratt and Richard Drezen contributed to this report.