San Antonio Nuclear Power

Written by Randy Watson

On December 6, 1971, a feasibility study was created to come up with a nuclear plant that was estimated to cost at around $974 million. The group of people who initiated this move are the Houston Lighting & Power Co.the City of Austin, the City of San Antonio (CPS  Energy), and the Central Power and Light Co. The result of the study seemed to get a positive result because on the year 1973, they have initially chosen Bay City as the location of the project. In the year 1976, construction for this nuclear plant started.

In the year 1981, the construction was behind by four years compared to their schedule and there were problems with the cost. The estimated ($974 million) amount turned out to be quite a small amount because it turned out to cost at around $5 billion. The selected architect and construction company, decided to re-schedule the completion of the project to June 1989. However, the contractor decided to quit their post as the construction company for this project. Because of the contractor\'s decision to quit, they received a lawsuit due to breach of contract on December 26, 1981. The lawsuit was settled when the contractor agreed to paid $750 million on May 30, 1985. It was on February 1982 that Ebasco Constructors was hired as replacement.

On March 18, 1988, the first reactor unit reached initial criticality and was able to operate on August 25 the same year. A little more than a year after, unit two was able to reach initial criticality and became operational on June 19, 1989. However, these two units encountered several defects and were temporarily turned offline. The two units underwent rehabilitation in its steam-driven auxiliary feed water pumps on February 1993. It took more than a year to restore the two units\' service, as it was able to provide service on March 1994.

 Today, this nuclear plant is known as the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station or South Texas Project (STP). Located at 55 miles of the southwest part of Bay City, Texas, this nuclear plant covers 12, 200 acre of land on the Colorado River. This was the first nuclear plant in Texas. The two Westinghouse pressurized water reactor units were included as the top 20-electricity generating nuclear units worldwide. The first unit took the first position as the highest output capability with 1,251 megawatts. The second unit comes in second place with 1,250 megawatts. CPS Energy owned by the city of San Antonio provides power from these units to San Antonio real estate. CPS Energy owns 40% of the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station.

STP has a unique design wherein it took full consideration of its safety. Instead of having two fully independent emergency core cooling systems and associated support systems in the two units, STP installed three. However, this feature did not fully convince the nuclear safety regulations during the licensing process of the nuclear plant.

There was a proposal to expand the South Texas Project. Last June 19, 2006, the NRG Energy submitted a letter of intent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two 1358-MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactors to the site.