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Ameren Missouri Forms An Alliance With Westinghouse Electric To Apply For Department Of Energy Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Investment Funds

Stocks in this article: AEE

ST. LOUIS, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Ameren Missouri, a utility company of Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE), announced it has entered into an agreement with Westinghouse Electric Company, a proven, global leader in nuclear energy and small modular reactor technology development, to exclusively support Westinghouse's application for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Small Modular Reactors (SMR) investment funds of up to $452 million. The investment funding, announced by the DOE on March 22, will support first-of-its-kind engineering, design certifications and operating licenses for up to two SMR designs over five years. 

The objectives of the DOE program are to support efforts for the United States to become the global leader in the design, engineering, manufacturing and sale of American-made SMRs around the world, as well as expand our nation's options for nuclear power. Westinghouse expects to submit the investment fund application by mid-May. A final decision on awarding the investment funds is expected in the summer of 2012.

"Our agreement with Westinghouse is consistent with our commitment to taking proactive steps today to maintain important generation options to meet our state's energy needs in the future," said Ameren Missouri Chairman, President and CEO Warner Baxter. "The recently announced DOE program presents Missouri with a tremendous opportunity to save Missouri customers millions of dollars associated with operating license development costs. Equally important, winning the DOE competitive process positions Missouri for a transformational economic development opportunity which includes becoming the hub for the engineering design, development, manufacturing and construction of American-made SMR technology in Missouri, in the United States and around the world."

"Our focus at the Callaway Energy Center is on safety. When we evaluated the Westinghouse SMR, we were really impressed with the enhanced safety features. The reactor and containment building are below ground, which provides additional protection from natural disasters. The Westinghouse SMR has a simple design and can be safely shutdown after a loss of power with very little operator action. All of this makes for a very attractive package," explained Ameren Missouri Chief Nuclear Officer Adam Heflin.

All of Missouri's electric energy providers, which includes Ameren Missouri, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., The Empire District Electric Company, Kansas City Power & Light Company, and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, have also committed to supporting the Westinghouse application to the DOE.

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. CEO and General Manager Jim Jura said, "This unprecedented alliance of electric energy providers reflects our collective commitment to take important steps today to address our state's long-term energy needs and position Missouri for a tremendous economic development opportunity in the future."

Should Westinghouse be awarded DOE investment funds, Ameren Missouri will be the first utility in the country to seek a Combined Construction and Operating license (COL) for a Westinghouse SMR. A COL is issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct and operate a nuclear power plant at a specific site in accordance with established laws and regulations. Obtaining a COL from the NRC does not obligate Ameren Missouri or Missouri's other electric energy providers to build a SMR at the Callaway site; however, it does preserve an important energy option and positions Missouri to move forward in a timely fashion should conditions be right to build a SMR in the future.

"We are excited and eager to begin this historic alliance with Missouri and Ameren Missouri to further develop nuclear energy technology while bringing economic benefits to the state of Missouri.  As we were first in developing and licensing passive reactor technology with the AP1000® reactor, Westinghouse, along with Ameren Missouri and the State of Missouri will be the first movers in the next generation of nuclear technology, the Westinghouse SMR," said Westinghouse Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Dr. Kate Jackson.

Westinghouse selected Missouri as the best choice because the state offers a strong nuclear operator with an excellent site for development, expertise to support and obtain a COL, an unprecedented alliance of electric energy providers, investment and supportive actions to date for new nuclear development, strong support from key state and federal policy makers, including Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Mike Kehoe and Representative Jeanie Riddle, and broad public support, including labor, suppliers, and businesses.

"Designing, developing and commercializing next-generation nuclear technology will create good jobs for Missourians, expand our global exports, and ensure that Missouri has affordable, abundant, safe and reliable power for generations to come," Governor Jay Nixon said. 

"It is important to remember that in addition to this effort helping to secure Missouri's energy future, it is also helping to secure in-state, good-paying, sustainable jobs for Missouri's families," said St. Louis Building & Construction Trade Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Aboussie.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe, noted, "The extraordinary nuclear engineering programs on the University of Missouri campuses provide unique opportunities to collaborate with Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri to advance SMR technology by providing for research, education and training expansion in our nuclear energy programs, as well as many of our other engineering programs."

Baxter noted, "The hard work, strong leadership and forward-thinking approach to energy and economic policymaking of key legislative leaders including Governor Nixon, Senator Kehoe, and Representative Riddle were vital in leading Westinghouse to take notice of Missouri."

In light of developments associated with the recently announced DOE program, legislative efforts surrounding the cost recovery for activities associated with obtaining an Early Site Permit from the NRC have been placed on hold while the state of Missouri seeks to capitalize on this significant opportunity. Future legislative needs associated with nuclear energy will be determined subsequent to the DOE's investment fund decision.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 megawatts (MW) nuclear reactor with advanced safety and power features. The Westinghouse SMR technology is based on the AP1000® pressurized water reactor, a design that has already been licensed by the NRC. Eight AP1000 units are currently being constructed: four in China, with the first unit expected to come online in 2013, and four units in the United States, the first of which is expected to come online in 2016. The SMR will be manufactured in modules that are truck, barge and rail shippable and assembled on the plant site. This approach is designed to reduce construction time and costs.

Click here to view the Westinghouse release regarding the announcement. Click here to view the Missouri Governor's office release regarding the announcement.

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than a century, and our electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. We serve 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. Our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers 63 counties and 500 towns, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit AmerenMissouri.com.

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world.  Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa.  Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants.

Forward-looking Statements

Statements in this release not based on historical facts are considered "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such forward-looking statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed under Risk Factors in Ameren Missouri's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, and elsewhere in this release and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations suggested in such forward-looking statements:

  • regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions, including changes in regulatory policies and ratemaking determinations, such as the outcome of Ameren Missouri's electric rate case filed in 2012; and future regulatory, judicial, or legislative actions that seek to change regulatory recovery mechanisms;
  • changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary, fiscal, and tax policies;
  • the effects of increased competition in the future due to, among other things, deregulation of certain aspects of our business at both the state and federal levels, and the implementation of deregulation;
  • the effects on demand for our services resulting from technological advances, including advances in energy efficiency and distributed generation sources, which generate electricity at the site of consumption;
  • increasing capital expenditure and operating expense requirements and our ability to recover these costs through our regulatory frameworks;
  • the cost and availability of fuel such as coal, natural gas, and enriched uranium used to produce electricity; the cost and availability of purchased power and natural gas for distribution; and the level and volatility of future market prices for such commodities, including the ability to recover the costs for such commodities;
  • the effectiveness of our risk management strategies and the use of financial and derivative instruments;
  • the level and volatility of future prices for power in the Midwest;
  • business and economic conditions, including their impact on interest rates, bad debt expense, and demand for our products;
  • generation, transmission, and distribution asset construction, installation, performance, and cost recovery;
  • the extent to which Ameren Missouri is permitted by its regulators to recover in rates the investments it made in connection with a proposed second unit at its Callaway energy center;
  • impairments of long-lived assets or intangible assets;
  • operation of Ameren Missouri's Callaway energy center, including planned and unplanned outages, decommissioning, costs and potential increased costs as a result of nuclear-related developments in Japan in 2011;
  • the effects of strategic initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures;
  • the impact of current environmental regulations on utilities and power generating companies and new, more stringent or changing requirements, including those related to greenhouse gases, other emissions, cooling water intake structures, coal combustion residuals, and energy efficiency, that are enacted over time and that could limit or terminate the operation of certain of our generating units, increase our costs, result in an impairment of our assets, reduce our customers' demand for electricity or natural gas, or otherwise have a negative financial effect;
  • the inability of our counterparties and affiliates to meet their obligations with respect to contracts, credit facilities, and financial instruments;
  • legal and administrative proceedings; and
  • acts of sabotage, war, terrorism, cybersecurity attacks or intentionally disruptive acts.

Given these uncertainties, undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements. Except to the extent required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements to reflect new information or future events.

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