ANNAPOLIS – Federal and state officials are attempting to revive a plan to develop a third nuclear reactor in Calvert County, a project that could create more jobs and develop energy in Maryland.
Gov. Martin O’Malley met Tuesday morning with officials from Electricite de France, one of the project’s partners, to work on a plan to revive the project and save the jobs associated with it, spokesman Shaun Adamec said.
Friday, Constellation Energy of Baltimore, which was part of a joint venture, pulled out of a $7.5 billion federal loan guarantee to build a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby.
In a statement, the company said the loan guarantee was “unreasonably burdensome and would create unacceptable risks and costs.”
Adamec, O’Malley’s spokesman, said the governor was “very surprised and disappointed at Constellation pulling out of what was almost universally perceived as a near-complete process.”
The French utility company, which owns half of Constellation Energy’s nuclear operation, said it was “shocked” and “disappointed” by the withdrawal.
Officials are pushing to increase the state’s nuclear capacity because Maryland imports much of its energy. A report by the Public Service Commission in 2007 predicted that Maryland could see energy shortages and rolling blackouts as early as 2011.
State officials hoped that adding a third reactor would alleviate expected shortages in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Nuclear energy would help to meet environmental clean air goals and lower greenhouse gas emissions, fulfilling demand with a reliable carbon free source of electricity, said Maureen Brown, a communications manager with Constellation Energy.
But many anti-nuclear organizations feel the company’s decision was a step in the right direction for Maryland energy.
“We’re happy to see our energy project going in a different direction,” said Brad Heavner, the state director for Environment Maryland. “Our biggest opposition comes from the fact that it’s expensive. It’s a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, which could be spent better on truly clean technologies.”
Maryland PIRG, an anti-nuclear public advocacy group, also agrees that nuclear energy would be more expensive for consumers and that there are major safety concerns involved.
The development of the nuclear reactor, Calvert Cliffs 3, would cost approximately $10 billion and take at least 10 years to construct, said Jenny Levin of Maryland PIRG.
“It’s actually not providing energy to meet the energy demands when we need it,” Levin said.
Both Environment Maryland and Maryland PIRG suggest solar or wind energy to be the alternative to nuclear reactors because they are more cost effective and less harmful to people and the environment.
A project to help bring 6,000 megawatts of wind energy — enough to power 1.9 million households — from wind farms off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic states to the mainland was proposed this week by Trans-Elect, a Maryland-based company, which plans to lay a 350-mile transmission cable from northern New Jersey to southern Virginia. The project would allow any new wind farms to feed clean, renewable energy into the cable, helping Mid-Atlantic states to meet their renewable energy goals.
“We think we should be subsidizing technologies of the future and not the past,” Heavner said. “We have to reduce the amount of electricity we use.”