EDF wants help from Maryland for Calvert Cliffs 3

French utility meets with O'Malley

March 02, 2011|By Hanah Cho, The Baltimore Sun

French utility EDF Group is asking the state for help in developing a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.

Thomas Piquemal, EDF's executive vice president of finance, met this week with Gov. Martin O'Malley in Washington, where the governor was attending the National Governors Association winter conference. Piquemal also met with Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland.

The two discussed ways to push forward the project, which has had some setbacks. EDF's U.S. partner, Baltimore's Constellation Energy Group, pulled out of negotiations in the fall with the Department of Energy over a federal loan guarantee deemed crucial to the $9.6 billion project. EDF then bought Constellation's stake in the project and decided to pursue development of the third plant on its own.

Because building the new reactor is unprofitable at current power prices, the company may ask the state to buy power from the new reactor in Lusby, approve contracts for utilities to buy the power, or roll the construction costs into regulated electricity prices, Piquemal told Bloomberg News.

O'Malley's spokesman Shaun Adamec said Wednesday that no specific agreements were reached.

"The governor's objective, throughout this process, is to find a way to come through the issues on the table and save the jobs that are at risk should this project fall through," Adamec said. "This is an important project not only for Maryland's energy future."

EDF is looking for a U.S. partner for the Calvert Cliffs 3 project. Federal law forbids foreign entities to own or control a U.S. nuclear plant. The company recently submitted a plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ensuring U.S. control over the proposed reactor.

Besides securing a U.S. partner, another step to help move the project forward is securing the federal loan guarantee. The Department of Energy is working with EDF on its application, spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller said.

EDF and Constellation own two nuclear reactors at Calvert Cliffs under a joint venture.

Hanah.cho@baltsun.com

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