Calvert Cliffs generator deal set BGE signs $200 million pact for replacement of 4 steam units

Utilities

June 23, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has hired a company owned jointly by one of the world's largest construction firms and an affiliate of a big North Carolina power concern to replace four steam generators at its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant.

The utility's $200 million contract with Steam Generating Team Ltd. represents the largest step to date in BGE's quest to renew its license on the Lusby plant with federal regulators.

Steam Generating is a joint venture of Morrison Knudsen Corp. of Boise, Idaho, and Duke Engineering and Services, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corp.

"They have proven to be very knowledgeable and very RTC experienced, and we were impressed with their skills as we underwent the planning for this," said Karl R. Neddenien, a BGE spokesman.

Calvert Cliffs' license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to expire in 2014. It is the first nuclear plant in the nation to attempt to extend its operating schedule.

As part of an NRC filing this spring, BGE said it hopes to extend Calvert Cliffs' license until 2036. The NRC renewal process is expected to run through 2003.

The steam generators represent two-thirds of BGE's projected cost of refurbishing the plant, which was built for $750 million in the late 1960s.

Another $100 million will go to pay for renewal preparation and equipment installation, Neddenien said.

Meanwhile, the NRC has scheduled the first of a series of public meetings on BGE's renewal application.

The July 9 meeting at the plant is expected to deal with the environmental impact surrounding the plant's continued operation.

The work at Calvert Cliffs represents the latest nuclear assignment for Steam Generating, a 4-year-old company that has pledged to replace the mammoth generators within five years.

Last year, the company completed similar work at Florida Power & Light Co.'s St. Lucie nuclear plant, and in 1996 it replaced steam generators at Wisconsin Electric Power Co.'s Point Beach nuclear facility.

"Basically these steam generators are wearing out around the country," said James P. Riccio, an energy campaigner with Public Citizen, a Washington advocacy group that opposes nuclear power plants.

"And they are replacing them now because they know they won't last through the life of the existing license.

"The question is whether this is a good deal for the consumers of Maryland. We don't think it is, and consumers are going to get ripped off. Don't think for a minute that the utility will swallow the costs of this."

As part of its work for BGE, Steam Generating will buy new Canadian-made generators, install them and help BGE with the subsequent NRC license renewal.

The new generators will be 62 feet tall, more than 20 feet in diameter and weigh 1 million pounds each.

In selecting Steam Generating, BGE passed on the only other bid submitted by the Bechtel Corp., the San Francisco firm that both designed and built Calvert Cliffs, said Al Thornton, a BGE project manager.

BGE generates roughly 40 percent of its total electric capacity at the Calvert Cliffs installation, supplying nearly 400,000 residents and businesses.

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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