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Babcock & Wilcox finalizes agreement with US DOE for SMR funding


Babcock & Wilcox subsidiary B&W mPower has signed a cooperativeagreement with the US Department of Energy that immediately makes $79 millionin federal funding available for design development and US Nuclear RegulatoryCommission certification and licensing of its mPower small modular reactordesign, B&W said in a statement Monday.

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DOE in November selected the mPower America team -- comprised of B&W, theTennessee Valley Authority and Generation mPower, a joint venture B&W mPowerand Bechtel -- to receive a portion of a $452 million, five-year cost shareagreement to support commercialization of the mPower small modular reactor,or SMR, by 2022. SMRs are defined by DOE as reactors with less than 300 MWcapacity that can be manufactured in factories and shipped to utilities asdemand arises.

The initial allocation is intended to be used in 2013, the first year ofthe program. Generation mPower will handle licensing and engineering supportfor the project, the company said.

"DOE has committed to providing $150 million over the five years of theagreement, but we anticipate a number of opportunities to seek additionalfunding to support licensing and engineering activities, and under the termsof the cooperative agreement that could bring the total to $226 million ormore," B&W spokesman Ryan Cornell said in an emailed response to questionsMonday.

B&W signed a contract with TVA February 7 that formalizes the utility's2011 letter of intent to deploy the mPower SMR design at its Clinch Riversite in Tennessee and lays out each company's responsibilities and workscopes for preparing a construction permit application to be reviewed by NRC.

It includes conducting a geological characterization at the site anddeveloping safety analysis and environmental assessment reports for deployingup to four mPower SMRs at the site.

"With the signing of the cooperative agreement, geologicalcharacterization studies will commence at the Clinch River site withinapproximately six weeks," B&W said in its statement.

Generation mPower intends to submit a design certification applicationto NRC in the third quarter of 2014, Cornell said.

"The current plan is for TVA to submit the Clinch River mPowerconstruction permit application in 2015," he added.

Cornell declined to comment on the proposal in the White House budgetrequest released last week that sought a sale of TVA to a private owner.

"Looking ahead, our collective focus will remain on ensuring the qualityand integrity of our design and our readiness to bring the product tomarket," B&W President and CEO E. James Ferland said in the company'sstatement.

The cooperative agreement requires B&W to match every dollar provided byDOE. The final amount of funding the company receives will be subject toB&W's compliance with the agreement, appropriations from Congress and otherfactors, the company said in its statement.

DOE announced March 11 plans for a second round of competition for SMRfunding, which would also factor into the final amount of funds available toB&W.

The department is accepting applications through July 1 for proposalswith the potential to deploy a SMR design around 2025 that offers "innovativeand effective solutions for enhanced safety, operations and performance." DOEsaid it expects to announce the funding recipient -- or possibly multiplerecipients if funding permits -- in the fall.

Holtec International, NuScale Power and Westinghouse have said theyintend to apply for the second solicitation. They previously applied underthe first DOE funding opportunity, but were not selected.

--Jasmin Melvin, by Lisa Miller,