Missouri creates task force to aid Westinghouse with modular reactor work

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said July 23 that a Local Government Task Force is being created to assist Westinghouse Electric in its bid for funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to design, license, manufacture and commercialize American-made small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Nixon made the announcement at an economic development summit held at the University of Missouri, where he was joined by senior executives from Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri, as well as by representatives of all of Missouri’s electric power providers and the presiding commissioners from several mid-Missouri counties.

In April, Westinghouse announced it had chosen Missouri as the location to develop and manufacture a new generation of SMRs, which are highly compact, safe and reliable reactors that make nuclear power an attractive option for a variety of electric energy providers, Nixon noted. In May, Westinghouse submitted its application for federal cost-share investment funds to DOE.

“Creating this new generation of nuclear reactors will require extensive research, advanced engineering, and outstanding workers – we offer all three right here in Missouri,” Nixon said. “To build on this strong foundation and continue down the path toward success, I am forming our Local Government Task Force, which will include the presiding commissioners of Boone, Callaway, Cole, Osage, and Phelps counties. Those counties include the project area, and two of our world-class research institutions.” 

If Westinghouse receives the investment funds, it and Ameren Missouri would seek appropriate licenses from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move forward with construction of a Westinghouse SMR at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway nuclear plant site. The governor said the project would help meet the entire state’s energy needs and transform Missouri into a hub for manufacturing SMRs to be exported around the world.

Westinghouse’s application to the DOE and its vision of developing SMR technology in Missouri have strong support from all of Missouri’s electric power providers, including Ameren Missouri, the Missouri Association of Electric Cooperatives, the Missouri Public Utility Alliance, Associated Electric Cooperative, Empire District Electric and Kansas City Power and Light.

In addition to forming the Local Government Task Force, Nixon also appointed Jason Hall, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, to represent the state on Westinghouse’s SMR Readiness Committee. This public/private collaboration includes representatives from a diverse segment of Missouri’s workforce, including economic development professionals, private business, universities and utilities. The Westinghouse SMR Readiness Committee is examining a variety of issues to ensure that Missouri’s economic, regulatory and policy environment is conditioned to create jobs and compete on a national level.

“We have an opportunity to create a new industry from the ground up, and this new industry means unlimited potential for sustainable jobs and economic growth,” said Dr. Kate Jackson, Westinghouse Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “By building a first-of-a-kind Westinghouse SMR at Callaway, we are creating an industry that positions Missouri as a key player in the transformation of the U.S. energy market.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.