The Carbon Free Power ProjectBy the end of this decade, the first NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) power plant will begin operation in the United States in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Foundational to the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), an initiative spearheaded by the public power consortium Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the NuScale plant will advance the goals of the CFPP to provide safe, reliable, and cost competitive clean energy to communities across the Intermountain West. The first NuScale Power Module™ will begin generating power in 2029, with the remaining modules coming online for full plant operation by 2030.
UAMPS formally launched the CFPP in 2015. In August of that year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $16.6 million in cost-shared funding to NuScale for the preparation of a combined license application (COLA) with UAMPS. In February 2016, the DOE issued a Site Use Permit to UAMPS for the CFPP, which permitted UAMPS to identify and characterize potential locations for licensing and constructing a NuScale plant within the 890-square mile Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls. The preferred INL site was selected in July 2019. In October 2020, the DOE approved a $1.355 billion multi-year cost-share award to UAMPS to fund the development and construction of the CFPP.
In January 2021, UAMPS and NuScale executed agreements to help manage and de-risk the development of the CFPP. Pursuant to the initial orders from UAMPS, Fluor Corporation and NuScale (as a subcontractor to Fluor) are to develop higher maturity cost estimates and initial project planning work for the licensing, manufacturing, and construction of the CFPP. These agreements are an important step in a deployment plan that is expected to result in the order of NuScale Power Modules™ by UAMPS in 2022.
Activity began in 2020 at the UAMPS CFPP site to support site characterization activities necessary for licensing and construction. These include erection of meteorology towers and the deployment of associated equipment housing, and establishing inclement weather and meeting trailers, parking, and deep bore drilling to support seismic assessment and construction planning. The NuScale plant will also support the water efficiency needs of the UAMPS region by using air instead of water for cooling, cutting water use by more than 90 percent. Read the blog post titled, “A Nuclear Solution for Climate, Energy and Water” by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) that describes dry cooling and the water savings that NuScale power plants offer.
The Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University conducted an economic analysis estimating the increased output (sales), employment, employee compensation, tax revenues, and gross regional product of the NuScale power plant in Idaho. A few of the economic benefits that the plant will provide include:
- An estimated 1,600 jobs created over the construction period of the plant.
- Through indirect and induced effects, plant operations will add a total of 667 jobs in the region each year over the estimated 40–to 60-year lifetime of the facility.
- Plant operations are estimated to increase labor income in the region by nearly $48 million, increase economic output in the region by an estimated $81.15 million, add $2.97 million to local and state tax revenues annually, and add $10.86 million to federal tax revenues annually.
In addition to the jobs generated, the supply chain implications are vast: cables, piping, steel, and all the necessary components—representative of million-dollar business opportunities for local and regional manufacturers. The UAMPS CFPP will act as a catalyst for subsequent SMR plant deployments across the U.S., and NuScale is ready to meet the clean energy needs of other states across the country seeking a reliable, safe, and carbon-free power solution that also supports local and regional jobs and economic development.