UAMPS small modular reactor seen in 2020s

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) has reached an agreement with NuScale Power for 600-MW of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power technology that could go into commercial operation in the early 2020s, NuScale Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough told GenForum Dec. 8 in Orlando, Fla.

UMPS will own this and project using NuScale technology, McGough told the conference put on by GenerationHub. UAMPS will submit its NRC application in 2017.

“UAMPS has determined that new carbon free baseload capacity is necessary to replace the expected retirement of coal fired generating assets and that the UAMPS members need to have a carbon-free baseload generating asset as part of a balanced portfolio of generating assets,” according to the UAMPS website.

NuScale envisions a 44-acre site. “Basically it looks like a big WalMart,” McGough said.

UAMPS could begin construction in 2020. Commercial operation should start in 2023-to-2024 time frame, McGough said.

NuScale has received Department of Energy (DOE) support to help commercialize the SMR technology.

Each NuScale Power Module is a self-contained module that operates independently of the other modules in a multi-module configuration. However, all modules are managed from a single control room.

The SMR technology solves the problem of “what do you do in the case of a station blackout,” McGough said.  The SMR, in a blackout, will shut itself down and keep itself safe indefinitely, he added.

There are a number of electric utilities that don’t currently have nuclear in their portfolio that are looking at NuScale, McGough said.

Another  NuScale project could be located in Idaho, near the Idaho National Lab, McGough said. The Northwest-based NuScale has been working closely with NRC for approval of the small-scale nuclear technology.

McGough likens NuScale’s 50-MW SMR increments to “just-in-time nuclear.”

Panel says despite problems, U.S. nuclear is in growth mode

McGough appeared as a part of a panel discussion that included Southern Nuclear Co. Vice President Technical Compliance David Jones. The Southern (NYSE:SO) official said construction is going well on the Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear units in Georgia.

During the same panel discussion, Nuclear Matters Leadership Council Member David Wright said that existing nuclear units face a “perfect storm” of adversity. This includes a combination of flat power demand, cheap natural gas, increased nuclear operating costs, and electric transmission infrastructure issues.

The panel members agreed that the United States cannot meet ambitious carbon control goals without new nuclear. Nevertheless, there are significant problems with the treatment of nuclear power in the EPA Clean Power Plan.

Nevertheless, nuclear is making progress with construction of new generation by Southern, SCANA (NYSE:SCG) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.