The U.S.Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted PublicService Enterprise Group Inc. subsidiaries PSEG Power LLC and PSEGNuclear LLC an early site permit for a nuclear project in southern NewJersey.
The federalagency's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on April 26 issued the suitability permitto PSEG for a potential nuclear plant adjacent to PSEG and Exelon Corp.'s Salemnuclear plant and PSEG's HopeCreek nuclear plant in Salem County, N.J. PSEG in 2010 applied for thepermit, which is valid for 20 years but is separate from the license still neededto build and operate a nuclear plant at the site.
"Thisis an important final step," PSEG spokesman Joe Delmar said in a statement."It provides us with a 20-year window to pursue a construction and operatinglicense."
Still,building the plant is not a high corporate priority. "Though we have no immediateplans to pursue construction, we continue to believe that nuclear plays a key roletoday and also in the future in meeting New Jersey and America's clean air goals,"Delmar said. "These goals can't be achieved without carbon-free nuclear power."
The issuanceof the permit immediately drew fire from environmental group the Sierra Club, whichclaimed that the plant would undermine renewable energy in New Jersey.
"Weneed another nuclear plant like we need another Hurricane Sandy," Sierra Clubstate director Jeff Tittel said in a newsrelease. "This project is the wrong project, in the wrong place;it's dangerous and it's expensive."
PSEGtold the NRC in 2012 thata possible new plant at the site along the Delaware River could help boost capacityin PJM Interconnection LLC,especially after Exelon in 2019 retires its Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Ocean County, N.J.
The NRCin November 2015 foundno significant reason to block the granting of the early site permit for the projectwhen it published a 1,900-page environmental impact statement. The NRC also publisheda favorable safety evaluation report for the project in September 2015.