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Mt. Pleasant may protect power

future by buying in on nuclear

 

By James Tilson
Staff writer

Apr. 19, 2018

 

MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council may invest in the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) as a hedge against the loss of coal-fired power plants in the future.

The council listened to a presentation from Jackie Coombs of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) detailing why the city should invest in the project at a meeting Tuesday. Mt. Pleasant is member of UAMPS.

Joining the CFPP is one way to diversify the city’s power needs.

Coombs told the council the CFPP was a reaction to the Obama Administration’s decision to reduce the carbon footprint of the country’s energy production. In Utah, that means that many coal-fired power plants will be converting to natural gas production, if not entirely shutting down.

UAMPS has decided to invest in small modular reactors and give its members the opportunity to invest in them as well, Coombs said. The small modular reactors are the same NuScale Power Module nuclear reactors that Ephraim has already invested in.

Ephraim invested 3000 kilowatts of electrical power (or about $72,000 a year) into this project, said Cory Daniels, Director of Ephraim’s Power Department.  Ephraim’s return will begin when the new plant is online and begins selling power retail – sometime around 2026.

Coombs said she was resending the UAMPS contract to Mt. Pleasant for its review, and for the council to decide what percentage of its power needs will be taken from the CFPP. Coombs explained the city’s obligation to UAMPS under the contract would be one megawatt. The payments to UAMPS would be made from the city’s electric power revenue.

Coombs revealed the schedule for the NuScale Power Module to become operational. Licensing Phase 1 is expected to be finished by June 2020 and Licensing Phase 2 should be done by the second quarter of 2023.

Thereafter, the Construction Phase is expected to be finished by 2027, and then go into operation. The Operation Period for the NuScale Power Module should be up to 80 years. The first NuScale Power Module is due to be constructed near Arco, Idaho.

Should Mt. Pleasant decide to withdraw from the CFPP, it would be able to do so until the project goes into the Construction Phase.

The council will review the UAMPS information and likely vote on the proposal at its next meeting.

A NuScale small modular reactor generates thermal energy by heating a nuclear reactor at the bottom of the module and carrying out steam to a generator. Most of the reactor is installed in the ground, putting the reactor core more than 60 feet underground.