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Va. bill clarifies that utilities can recover nuclear upgrade costs

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Va. bill clarifies that utilities can recover nuclear upgrade costs

A bill advancing in the Virginia General Assembly will allow Dominion Virginia Power to petition state regulators for cost recovery tied to upgrades needed to extend the operating license or life of its nuclear units.

H.B. 2291, introduced Jan. 11 by Delegate Terry Kilgore, is designed to clarify that those costs can be recovered through a rate adjustment clause approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

The House Committee on Commerce and Labor advanced the bill on Jan. 19. Kilgore, chairman of the committee, reportedly introduced the legislation since it's unclear under current state law if the costs of necessary major modifications are recoverable.

Dominion Virginia Power, known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co., plans to pursue a second relicensing of its 1,750-MW Surry nuclear plant in Virginia. The Dominion Resources Inc. utility said in late 2015 that it was reviewing all technical aspects associated with a 20-year Surry renewal and expects a renewal submittal to the NRC in 2019.

Dominion Virginia Power is the sole owner of the nuclear plant in Surry County, Va. It is composed of two pressurized water reactors that began operation in the early 1970s that originally were licensed to operate for 40 years, with their licenses renewed for 20 additional years in 2003. The current licenses expire in 2032 and 2033.

Dominion also has indicated that it may seek 20-year license extensions for its existing North Anna units, which came online in 1978 and 1980, according to SNL Energy data.

In addition, Dominion is pursuing a combined operating license for the potential development of its 1,453-MW North Anna unit 3.

Kilgore's bill does not specifically address North Anna, but it does place limitations on the requirement that a utility must demonstrate that it has considered third-party market alternatives in the process of building new generation.

Investor-owned utility Appalachian Power Co., which also owns and operates generation in Virginia, does not have any nuclear assets in its portfolio. Appalachian Power is a subsidiary of American Electric Power Co. Inc.

SNL Energy is an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence.