Monday, January 9, 2012

Areva announces $500 million deal

Areva has made a $500 million deal with Xcel Energy to supply the utility's Monticello nuclear generating plant in Minnesota. This should be good news, right?

Not so fast. For Idaho Falls, the real news may be at the bottom of a story posted Sunday on http://www.coolhandnuke.com/ and written by Dan Yurman, formerly of Idaho Falls, who blogs Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes (http://djysrv.blogspot.com/).

In December, Areva announced that due to a cash crunch it was suspending construction on the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility near Idaho Falls. Now, the French-state owned nuclear company appears to be considering a stake in the Urenco enrichment plant in southern New Mexico. Urenco is a uranium enrichment firm owned by several German utilities and the governments of Great Britain and the Netherlands.

"This new development suggests the firm is taking a page out of the playbook of the beer brewing industry. The way some brewers have boosted production capacity is to simply buy other breweries with existing plants and swap out the product line. ...

"If that is the case, and this is only speculative, then it could be that Areva is thinking it would be a lot cheaper to take an equity stake in an existing uranium enrichment operation, like the one in New Mexico, than to spend $3 billion on a new plant in Idaho."