Feb 12, 2007
DETROIT, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club today DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Anthony F. Earley Jr. announced that the company will prepare a license application for construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant in Newport, Mich., on the site of Detroit Edison's nuclear-fueled Fermi 2 Power Plant.
Earley told the audience that proceeding with a license application does not mean the company has decided to build to a nuclear plant. "Let me be clear that we have not yet made a final decision to build," he said. "Rather, we are preserving our option to build at some point in the future by beginning the long and complex process now."
He noted that the lengthy licensing process requires the company to begin preparing the application now. "Given the four- to five-year timeframe for the federal licensing process, and the five- to six-year construction period, we need to take this step immediately to have any chance of having a new plant operating in the next decade."
By moving ahead with the application now, the company also preserves the potential to take advantage of financial incentives under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which would ultimately benefit customers with lower costs.
Earley said the company also is evaluating several options to meet the projected electrical demand, including coal-fired generation. According to the state's recently released 21st Century Energy plan, Michigan will require at least one new base load plant by 2015 and additional plants in the following decade.
No new base-load power plant has been built in Michigan since the late 1980s. Earley said that Detroit Edison will aggressively pursue increased energy efficiency initiatives and development of renewable energy sources to help ensure a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for everyone. But, he said, "We will never run an auto assembly line or a cold-rolled steel mill using windmills or solar panels. You need big baseload nuclear and coal power plants to keep them running."
Environmental factors dictate that nuclear power be considered among the options to meet future demand for power. "With mounting evidence of the negative impact of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, nuclear power is an attractive alternative to fossil-fuel generation," Earley said. "Nuclear power plants do not emit any greenhouse gases or controlled air pollutants."
Earley noted that public acceptance of nuclear power is higher now than at any time in recent decades. "The superb performance of our nation's 103 operating nuclear plants is another reason to revisit this technology. With plants operating at or near record levels during the past six years, we're more comfortable with nuclear power. It's proven itself clean, safe, reliable and affordable. And that is with a generation of plants designed in the 1960s and 1970s."
He added that the next generation of plants builds on the design and operating experience of the current fleet. "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already certified new standardized advanced-plant designs for the U.S.," he said. "These next-generation nuclear plants incorporate features designed to make them simpler, safer and less costly to build and operate. Some of these simplified plants have been built overseas in a fraction of the time it took to build our current plants."
Earley emphasized the state's current regulatory structure contains stumbling blocks to new plant construction, and some important changes are needed before Detroit Edison or any company will invest billions of dollars in any new base-load power plant.
"That's the dilemma for Michigan utilities caught in a hybrid regulatory environment," he said. "The partially regulated and partially competitive structure in Michigan fails to provide the certainty required for the power plant investment critical to the state's future.
"Michigan must take control of its energy fate and fix its regulatory structure. I'm pleased to say that Michigan's recently released 21st Century Energy Plan recognized the need for structural changes. Now we have to be bold and make them."
Despite the fact that the company has not decided to build a plant, the application process requires that a specific site be identified. A number of factors have lead to determination that the 1,100-acre site of the Fermi 2 Power Plant would be the best location for a second nuclear power plant, if the company decides to build one. Those factors include access to the transmission grid, state-of-the-art on-site employee training facilities, the opportunity to share manpower and expertise between two plants and support from the local community.
Detroit Edison has sought bids from several firms to assist the company with preparation of a "combined license application" and expects to have the document ready to submit to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by the end of 2008. The NRC would be expected to decide if it will issue the license in two to three years after receiving the application.
Detroit Edison is an investor-owned electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a subsidiary of DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Information about DTE Energy is available at http://www.dteenergy.com/.
SOURCE: DTE Energy
CONTACT: Scott Simons, +1-313-235-8808, or Lorie N. Kessler,
+1-313-235-8807, both of DTE Energy
Web site: http://www.dteenergy.com/