U.S. CEO goes live with another unscripted conference call
The world of corporate communications is sometimes noted more for its opaque qualities than for frank talk. The reasons are there are a multitude of legal, financial, and branding issues at work every time a CEO steps up to a microphone.
Areva’s U.S. CEO Jacques Besnainou, who is an American citizen, sometimes makes fun of his “Brooklyn accent.” In fact, his responses to questions from a group of independent bloggers come across with the satisfying snap and crunch of a Nathan’s hot dog at Coney Island.
Areva is way out in front of the rest of the nuclear industry in its use of social media. In the latest of a series of unscripted conference calls, Besnainou talked with a group of nuclear bloggers July 9 about the company’s U.S. projects. He also answered questions as they came.
- See related blog post - Areva seeks business case for new reactor at Point Lepreau
Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility
“We are pleased that DOE moved so quickly,” Besnainou said. (photo left)
The NRC license is expected in summer 2011 at which time the firm will break ground at a site 18 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID. The plant is expected to produce 3 million SWU by 2014. It’s output will represent about 25% of total U.S. demand.
Besnainou said Areva will announce selection of an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor in a few months. A suppliers’ day with prospective vendors for the plant will take place in Idaho Falls, ID, in September. Information on doing business in Idaho Falls can be found at Grow Idaho Falls website.
An Areva executive on the conference call told the bloggers construction employment at the plant is expected to be about 1,000 workers between 2011-2014 and the permanent workforce will be in the range of 300-400 people.
Lane Allgood, Director of the Idaho Falls based Partnership for Science & Technology, sent this blog an email heads-up that the NRC is expected to announce a public hearing date on the draft environmental review for the plant. Allgood said he thinks it will be in mid-August.
Separately, Areva is working on improving the interchange to the plant on U.S. Highway 20. The State of Idaho and Areva agreed this week to spend $2 million to build a diamond shaped overpass to route traffic to-and-from the plant.
Though it is one of the most lonesome stretches of two- lane blacktop in the nation, it supports an amazing volume of traffic.
More than half the 6,000 people who work on the Arco desert at various parts of the Idaho National Laboratory travel US 20 by bus, van pool, or car.
Calvert Cliffs III
Besnainou is very excited about pending developments for Constellation’s Calvert Cliffs III reactor which will be a 1,600 MW Areva EPR. He said that the utility is in line for a DOE loan guarantee for the project this year and is getting “outstanding support” from Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md).
The House of Representatives passed an appropriation bill paying for the operational costs associated with granting $9 billion in loan guarantees to Constellation and two other utilities. They are expected to be NRG’s South Texas Project and Scana’s V.C. Summer Station. The legislation, which must pass soon as it funds other government projects, is now pending in the Senate.
Besnainou also praised Pres. Obama’ support for nuclear energy citing his February 16 announcement of the first award to Southern. That utility is building twin Westinghouse AP1000s.
Blue Ribbon Commission
Areva is following the deliberations of the Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC). Besnainou has previously discussed the benefits of reprocessing spent fuel and said Areva is interested in building a commercial facility for that purpose in the U.S.
In response to criticism from anti-nuclear groups who cite the risk of proliferation of weapons grade materials, Besnainou offered an odd but visually compelling metaphor. His point is that plutonium from spent nuclear fuel makes a lousy feedstock for a nuclear bomb.
He also dismissed comments submitted to the BRC by an anti-nuclear group that said a reprocessing plant would result in a massive release of radiation from an accident.
Besnainou cited Areva’s experience in France.
“We will never compromise on safety.”
The BRC is holding a series of committee meetings around the country. Check the BRC’s web site for dates, times, and locations.
# # #