INTERVIEW-NRG Energy would like more nuclear plants--CEO

NEW YORK Wed Nov 7, 2007 1:25am GMT

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NEW YORK Nov 6 (Reuters) - NRG Energy (NRG.N) would like to own more nuclear power plants, including the two units it proposed to build in Texas, the independent power company's chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Over time, we would like to own more," Chief Executive David Crane told Reuters at an industry conference in Orlando, Florida.

But Crane does not foresee NRG Energy increasing its nuclear portfolio through buying Entergy's (ETR.N) five power plants, which are set to be spun off next year.

"I wish we had them," Crane said, but added: "We're not the logical buyer."

NRG Energy would be competing with big nuclear companies, such as Exelon (EXC.N) or Dominion Resources (D.N), if it were to pursue Entergy's spun-off plants, Crane said. Power companies with utilities have a lower cost of capital than independent merchant companies that sell power at competitive prices.

On Monday, Entergy said it would spin off its five non-regulated nuclear plants, located largely in the U.S. Northeast, which has some of the highest power prices in the country.

Crane said the newly spun-out company will more likely be a target than an acquirer. "The idea that you can spin something, then immediately go on an acquisition binge ... it would probably be a few years out."

NRG Energy could see building more than the two nuclear units it has proposed in Texas but the company is constrained by having only one site, Crane said.

For the proposed new nuclear plants in Texas, Crane still sees building the facilities for $2,400 per kilowatt even though construction costs have gone up in the industry.

Crane also believes that NRG Energy can speed up the 42-month federal approval process for a new nuclear plant by setting a goal of answering questions in six months rather than the 12 months given to companies.

"We think we can cut some time off the schedule," he said. (Editing by Gary Hill)