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San Antonio municipal utility CPS Energy said March 15 it has suspended talks with NRG Energy about a prospective agreement to purchase additional power from the planned expansion (Units 3 & 4) of the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant. CPS holds a 7.625% ownership interest in the expansion project, and with that stake would be entitled to a total of about 206 MW from the planned South Texas Project units 3 and 4. The municipal utility also had been in talks with NRG about the possibility of purchasing unspecified amounts of additional power from Nuclear Innovation North America, the 88%/12% joint venture of NRG and Toshiba that owns the 92.375% of the planned units not held by CPS.

CPS and NRG decided "by mutual agreement that until more information is available about the situation in Japan and its impact on the industry worldwide, it makes sense to put our purchase power agreement discussions on hold."

CPS believes it is too soon to comment on whether the Japanese nuclear crisis might affect plans by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operator of the stricken Fukushima-I plant in Japan, to take up to a 499-MW stake in the planned South Texas units.

Tepco said last May that it would pay $125 million for a 10% share of the NINA joint venture once DOE has issued a conditional commitment to the project's developers for a federal loan guarantee.  One of the problems is that the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the Fugushima plant, was going to invest in the expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project. NRG Energy, a majority partner in the expansion, was also going to rely on loan guarantees from the Japanese government. Naturally any thought of any Japanese entity investing in nuclear power is on hold for the foreseeable future.

It would appear that the issues facing NRG’s Japanese partners (including Tepco, the beleaguered owners of the doomed Fukushima nuclear plant) are giving everyone pause in their relentless pursuit of the STP expansion.

Two reactors of the South Texas Nuclear Project have been providing power for the region since the mid 1980s. (UPI, 3/22/2011, Yahoo News, 3/15/2011, Public Citizen, 3/15/2011, Platt's Energy Week, 3/18/2011)