Toshiba Corporation's Westinghouse Electric Company received endorsement from 2 of 5 members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its AP-1000 nuclear reactor design. The positions of the three other commissioners have not yet been made public. Chairman Gregory Jaczko's vote was good news for backers of the new nuclear reactors. Power companies need approval for a reactor's design before they can secure a license to operate a plant using that reactor.
Among the planned new U.S. reactors using the AP-1000, proposals by Southern Company and Scana Corporation are the closest to being licensed by the NRC. Both companies have permission to start some construction at their sites but haven't secured full operating licenses. Southern anticipates the NRC will certify the AP-1000 design and will license a new reactor at its Vogtle plant in Georgia around the end of this year. The company is also still negotiating with the Department of Energy in an effort to secure an $8.3 billion loan guarantee. (WSJ, 10/12/2011)