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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

NUCLEAR RESEARCH: St. George ponders investment

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David DeMille – The Spectrum

Officials in St. George are considering taking part in a research program that includes plans to build a demonstration power plant using a small nuclear reactor.

St. George is part of a conglomeration of Utah utilities called Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), and last week members of the city council gave verbal approval to joining the entity’s research program based on the potential of a proposed nuclear facility in Idaho that could help the city and other utilities move away from a reliance on coal plants.

Federally-funded researchers with Corvallis, Oregon-based NuScale Power are working toward construction of a new wave type of nuclear plant that would use a series of small, factory-built modular reactors to produce power without some of the safety concerns inherent in larger nuclear facilities.

Unlikely to be operational until well into the 2020s — regulatory approval for the plans alone could take until nearly the end of the decade — the facility would be built at the Idaho National Laboratory, a federal research complex where various nuclear reactor prototypes have been developed over the years.

UAMPS and Energy Northwest, a similar entity based in Washington, have signed on as partners for the program, encouraged that the new design could safely provide a stable supply of power at a time when new regulations threaten to force the shutdown of some coal-powered facilities. (…)

To read more, please visit the Spectrum.