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Maryland Companies Join Forces to Launch U.S. Blueprint for Future Nuclear Power Plants

Looking to put together the tools, expertise and framework necessary to develop and deploy the first fleet of advanced nuclear power plants in America in nearly three decades, Baltimore, MD-based Constellation Energy and Bethesda, MD-based AREVA Inc. said last week that they have formed UniStar Nuclear as a joint enterprise to be located in Annapolis, MD.

AREVA and Constellation Energy also announced that Bechtel Power Corp. will support the project with its expertise as an architect, engineer and constructor.

"With the recent passage of the Energy Policy Act, we now believe the time is right to build nuclear power plants in America," said Michael J. Wallace, executive vice president of Constellation and co-chief executive officer of UniStar Nuclear. "We are taking a disciplined value-driven approach to creating and managing this new enterprise, which provides a new and unique business model for the nuclear power industry.

"By serving as a one-stop shop approach to design, build, license and operate a fleet of nuclear power plants, the UniStar approach provides an unprecedented level of certainty for energy companies and others contemplating new nuclear power plants," he said.

UniStar Nuclear will market a standard advanced design called the U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (U.S. EPR), a 1,600 MW evolutionary power reactor designed for America by AREVA Inc.

"The U.S. EPR is the nuclear plant for America's future," said Thomas A. Christopher, CEO of AREVA Inc., and co-chief executive officer of UniStar. "Its basic design is mature, and the detailed design is now being completed. The design will be licensed and ready to deploy in America to help companies meet their demand forecasts for new power on the grid by 2015."

Christopher said that more than 200 engineers are now working in support of the U.S. EPR design certification, which ensures development of a design that will allow energy companies to economically deploy advanced nuclear power plants that set a new standard for safety, efficiency and performance. AREVA previously announced plans to obtaining design certification for the U.S. EPR as a standard plant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plants will be made in America.

Two reactors are to be built and operated in Europe with one already under construction in Finland. AREVA said this ongoing plant construction experience provides a strong foundation for the U.S. The design incorporates more than 40 years of nuclear power plant operating experience.

The U.S. EPR also includes four separate safety systems, each of which is capable of performing the entire safety function for the reactor. AREVA, as prime contractor to any potential new nuclear project under the UniStar model, would provide the nuclear reactor and all support systems, instrumentation and control system and initial load of nuclear fuel.

Constellation Energy would operate the proposed fleet and expects to hold the plant operating licenses. The company also would form joint ventures for each nuclear power plant. However, prior to identifying specific projects or committing to ordering new nuclear power plants, Constellation Energy's financial commitment will be limited to the formation of the business platform and business development activities.

"The foresight and actions taken by the Bush Administration and Congress with the passage of the Energy Policy Act, have paved the way for today's announcement," Wallace announced Thursday. "By supporting nuclear power at a critical time, President Bush and Congress have helped secure America's energy future."

Wallace said Constellation's Calvert Cliffs and Nine Mile Point Nuclear Power Plants are viable sites for possible future development using the U.S. EPR design.

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