Small Modular Reactor Planning Underway in Utah

NuScale small modular nuclear reactor

GenForum Speakers Review Issues Ranging from Gas to Electric Load Demand

By Barry Cassell, Chief Analyst, GenerationHub; and Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst, GenerationHub

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 PennWell’s GenForum.

McGough was among the speakers on Dec. 8 at the GenForum, which was part of the larger Power-Gen conference in Orlando, Fla.

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

NuScale envisions a 44-acre site and a low-lying, flat-roof containment building. “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.

PJM Interconnection Chief Economist Paul Sotkiewicz was another GenForum speaker, pointing out that calculating load growth in PJM region isn’t as simple as it once was. Roughly 21% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced in the PJM region.

Traditionally a measurable uptick in the economy, in terms of GDP, would usually translate into greater demand for electric power. But the relationship between load growth and GDP growth has been eroding since World War II, he said.

“The 1990s show almost no relationship between GDP growth and load growth,” Sotkiewicz said in his keynote presentation materials.

The 13-year period between 2000 and 2012 shows that it takes more than 1% GDP growth just to keep the load growth flat, said the PJM official.

There could be a number of factors influencing this, said the PJM economist. One example is that the “saturation” of electricity in daily American life has increased over the decades to the point it limits the potential for new growth.

Sotkiewicz also noted that an advantage for PJM that is much of the region, especially in states like Pennsylvania, is sitting on top of newly-accessible shale gas reserves in areas like the Marcellus Shale. Minemouth coal-fired plants have had traditional advantages of nearby, secure fuel supplies. He said new gas plants in the region have many of those same advantages as “wellhead” plants.

Anuradha Sen, Senior Vice President and Deputy Head of Finance at power plant developer Panda Power Funds, noted that in PJM “there is a steady need for good gas combined cycle facilities,” which in many cases can be located in or near the Marcellus Shale region and secure reliable supplies of gas.

Outgoing Florida Public Service Commission member Eduardo Balbis said in his presentation that he is concerned about the state’s increasing reliance on natural gas for power generation and about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan. Originally appointed to the PSC by former Gov. Charlie Crist, Balbis is in his final days as a member of the commission.

"We import almost all of our natural gas," Balbis said. This is significant given that most of state's generation is now fueled by natural gas.

"We have very little in-state storage," Balbis said. Florida's two existing interstate natural gas pipelines are fully utilized and a third has been proposed, Balbis noted. "We no longer have significant coal or significant oil."

EPA greenhouse gas regulation is probably the No. 1 issue facing Florida, Balbis said. Florida is being asked by EPA to make steep CO2 cuts in the future, without getting credit for having already decreased its carbon intensity 21% since 2005, Balbis said.

This article was republished with permission from


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