Idaho and Utah Entities Collaborate

Creating Carbon-free Nuclear Energy

LaVar Webb Mar 15, 2019

Utah and Idaho have long been good neighbors, sharing a lengthy border. They also share similar demographics, remarkable outdoor recreation opportunities and the western values of independence and common sense.

The two states are also among the nation’s strongest economically, and both have been blessed by good leadership in business and government.

Currently, two innovative entities within Utah and Idaho are collaborating on a pioneering science and technology project focused on producing clean, carbon-free electrical energy using small modular nuclear reactors.

The project, named the Carbon Free Power Project, is owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. It is expected to be located at the Idaho National Laboratory, west of Idaho Falls, where more than 50 other nuclear reactors are housed. The project is receiving widespread national and international attention and enjoys strong support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems is planning to use an array of 12 small modular reactors, manufactured by NuScale Power, headquartered in Oregon. The project is expected to be operational in 2026 and will supply enough clean, carbon-free electricity to power more than 500,000 homes in Western states.

The Carbon Free Power Project could be the nation’s first small modular reactor project, ushering in a new generation of carbon-free nuclear energy said to be safer, smaller and more affordable. The project will replace coal-fired electrical generation and can also integrate with renewable energy like wind and solar, providing supplemental energy when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems is a consortium of 46 community-owned power systems, mostly in Utah, but also in California, Idaho (including Idaho Falls), Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. It provides comprehensive energy services to its community members and has ownership in several power projects, including coal and natural gas plants, a wind farm, hydro projects and waste heat.

Idaho National Laboratory, with some 3,900 employees, is the nation’s preeminent center for nuclear energy research and development. The laboratory has decades of experience with nuclear research and reactors, developing the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion systems and creating nuclear systems to power space exploration vehicles.

The company has a strong relationship with Utah universities and other entities. It is working with Rocky Mountain Power to create an electric vehicle corridor with charging stations. It has partnered with the University of Utah on cell phone service resiliency for first responders. It is working with Utah scientists on a $130 million geothermal research project in Utah’s Beaver County, and it has supported Tooele Army Depot, Dugway Proving Ground and Camp Williams in developing micro grids. Collaboration on a cybersecurity center is also being considered.

The Carbon Free Power Project is attracting widespread attention because it is potentially part of a solution to two colliding realities — the need for a dramatic increase in the global electric supply and the threat of climate change caused by carbon emissions. If the CFPP is successful, it can be replicated elsewhere, potentially ushering in an era of abundant, affordable, safe, carbon-free energy to help meet the world’s energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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