Citing increasing energy demand, AmerenUE is beginning the process to obtain a permit to build a second nuclear reactor.
The second reactor would be completed around 2018 and located on the same site as the existing nuclear power plant — 10 miles southeast of Fulton— and use a lot of the same resources, such as the Missouri River.
AmerenUE is looking ahead because of the complex and lengthy process involved in building a second reactor.
The Missouri Department of Transportation is already considering putting in another road to accommodate the traffic that building such a enormous facility would create.
When the first reactor was built in the 1970s, many supplies were brought in on the rail line that has since been turned into the Katy Trail State Park.
AmerenUE is also replacing the six-mile long pipeline that connects the reactor to the Missouri River. The current line is 30 years old, and AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary said the replacement will be large enough to service another reactor.
Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provides tax breaks for companies investing in nuclear energy. Cleary said filing for a permit enables the Callaway County plant to “hold a place in line” for these incentives, which will soon expire.
AmerenUE intends to file the initial application for a new reactor by September, Cleary said. A final decision on building a new reactor won’t be made until 2010.
Scott Burnell of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said there has been a significant interest in reactor applications since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 went into effect.
“The country hadn’t seen new applications for 30 years until last October,” he said. Most applications are in the southeastern United States, ranging from Virginia to Mississippi, he added.
Before the 2005 Act, the commission only knew of two potential applicants, Burnell said. The agency expects 22 applications in the next couple of years, he said.
“When utilities have been speaking to us, it’s an analysis of what they’ll need a decade from now,” Burnell said.
Companies may be looking into a variety of energy possibilities because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and many are “considering new nuclear power plants,” Burnell said.
The process of approving a new nuclear reactor involves a range of studies. The two main areas investigated, Burnell said, are environmental impact and safety.
AmerenUE’s second nuclear reactor would be about the same size as the current reactor, but because of technological advancements, it would put out about 1,600 megawatts of electricity, Cleary said. The current reactor generates about 1,190 megawatts, which Cleary said can service about 780,000 homes a year. By comparison, Columbia’s Municipal Power Plant can produce up to 85 megawatts of electricity.
A second Callaway reactor is part of AmerenUE’s overall energy strategy. “We’ve made a commitment to renewable energy as well, but it can’t meet the needs,” Cleary said.
For now, AmerenUE is focused on informing the public about the possibility of a new reactor. The utility held a town-hall meeting in Fulton earlier this month, and Cleary said about 100 people attended to hear a presentation and ask questions.
“It’s difficult to build a new power plant anywhere,” Cleary said.