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Project To Build Small Module Nuclear Reactors In SE Idaho Downsizes

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A project to build small modular nuclear reactors in southern Idaho has been downsized from 12 modules to six. 

The downsizing of the NuScale and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems small modular reactor project will increase the price of power from $55 per megawatt hour to $58. This triggered an unexpected offramp in the project and allowed municipalities still involved to pull out by the end of July.

Scott Williams is the Executive Director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah and said cities were not given enough time to make the decision to stay or withdraw from the project, and it creates financial problems for them at an environmental cost.

“I would say that the environmental costs of this project are far, far too great compared to renewable energy, energy efficiency storage and other things we can use to address these climate change concerns," he said. 

LaVarr Webb, spokesman for UAMPS, disagrees. According to Webb, the project is going well and will have a positive impact on both communities and the environment.

“The bottom line is, it will provide firm, always available energy to these growing cities that need more energy in the future," he said. "And it will enable a lot more renewable energy like wind and solar.” 

Webb said the project has support from the Biden Administration which approved a $1.4 billion cost share award demonstrating their commitment to the project. He said the project also had support from the U.S Department of Energy, as well as both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Webb said although the cost of the energy produced will be slightly higher with the smaller plant, the overall capital cost will be less.

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