Nuclear industry takes new path for proposed power plants, hopes to learn from past problems

By Ray Henry, AP
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nuclear industry takes new path for new plants

ATLANTA — Power utilities are trying to buy the next wave of nuclear reactors much like a consumer buys a light bulb: right off the shelf.

A tough economy and the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident stalled nuclear expansion a generation ago. Now, company executives want to avoid earlier problems, including using too many reactor designs. There are 104 commercial reactors in the country — none are exactly alike.

Two nuclear reactors proposed for eastern Georgia are being evaluated under a new system.

The new rules encourage utilities to pick from a handful of reactor designs, then replicate them elsewhere.

Supporters say system will produce nuclear plants that are quicker to build and easier to regulate. Critics question whether there are still too many reactor designs.

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