Virginia Utility Will Extend Life Of Its Nuke Portfolio to 80 Years

The power-generating utility Dominion, Richmond, Va., is in early discussions with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating life of its nuclear units to 80 years, says Thomas Wohlfarth, senior vice president. Dominion previously received 20-year extensions to the original 40-year licenses for its Surry and North Anna units. Receiving extensions would bode well for the development of a third nuclear unit at North Anna, says Wohlfarth. If reactors that were built in the 1970s could operate for 80 years, then a newer unit could be designed to run for up to 100 years, he says. Dominion plans to decide whether to build North Anna-3 after it receives a combined construction permit-operating license in early 2016. Dominion wants a balanced portfolio and believes that is best achieved with an additional nuclear unit.

U.S. High Court Backs EPA's Interstate Air-Quality Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld, on April 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's position that it had not exceeded its statutory powers when it issued an interstate air-pollution-control rule in 2011. That regulation, also called the "transport rule," requires 28 midwestern and southern states to control powerplant air emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants that affect downwind mid-Atlantic and eastern states. In a 6-2 vote, the court said EPA acted reasonably. The ruling is significant for construction because EPA's regulation would require some $800 million annually in powerplant retrofits, mostly in upwind states, the agency has said. The rule, which a lower court suspended last year, could save thousands of lives, according to public-health and environmental advocates. A group of industry and labor groups, along with Texas and several other states, challenged the rule in a federal appellate court in 2011.

Pipeline Would Link New LNG Project to Distribution System

Williams Partners L.P., Tulsa, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC (Transco), have announced that Williams is looking for committed customers to support its planned Gulf Trace pipeline project. That pipeline would connect to the Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal, now under construction in Cameron Parish, La. At an estimated cost of $300 million, the Gulf Trace pipeline would connect Transco's production facilities to its mainline distribution system and make bidirectional southwest Louisiana's lateral systems. The project will include two new compressor stations and an eight-mile, 36-in. lateral pipeline. The target completion date has been set for early 2017. Along with committed customers, the project also still requires the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Investors Buy Majority Stake in Construction Software Vendor

Bain Capital, a global investor in enterprise technology, has bought a majority stake, for $230 million, in Portland, Ore.-based Viewpoint Construction Software.

Viewpoint claims more than 40% average annual revenue growth since 2009. It has 700 employees and delivers—either on premises or through a software-as-a- service model—construction-specific products for financial compliance, project management, collaboration, estimating, mobile, content management and building information modeling. Customers are in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Jay Haladay, chairman and CEO, and the executive and management teams will stay, but the seven-member board of directors will be reconstituted to five, including Haladay, three from Bain, and, still to be chosen, one independent.