LOUISA, Va. (AP) - Dominion Virginia Power officials say plans are still on track for a third nuclear reactor at the company's North Anna Power Station.
Critics of the plan are doubtful that the proposed Unit 3 will be built. They cite low natural gas prices, delays in the approval process and the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
"I think Dominion is whistling past the graveyard on this project," Lou Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, told The Free Lance-Star.
Eugene S. Grecheck, Dominion vice president of nuclear development, acknowledged that demand for electricity has dropped due to the economy and natural gas is a more attractive fuel due to falling prices.
"But in the long term, we are convinced that it is not in the company's interest, or the nation's interest, to be completely dependent on only one fuel," Grecheck told the newspaper.
"Historically, the price of natural gas has been very volatile and subject to very big swings."
Dominion believes a diversity of energy sources should be maintained. Nuclear energy is still a key component of the company's long-term energy plan, he said.
Dominion initially filed an application for Unit 3 a decade ago and received an early-site permit in November 2007 to resolve environmental and safety issues and to complete preliminary site work. But approval of the project has been delayed by regulatory hurdles.
In 2010, Dominion selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industry's Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor technology for the potential unit.
Jerry Rosenthal, a Louisa County resident, does not believe that the proposed reactor will be built.
"I think the answer is pretty clear: Dominion did not even include North Anna 3 in their (integrated resource) plan for the next five years," said Rosenthal, a member of People's Alliance for Clean Energy, which opposes Unit 3.
Information from: The Free Lance-Star, http://www.fredericksburg.com/
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