Every few weeks I post a collection of news items that catch my attention and which I think will be of interest to readers.
NuScale sets date for safety design submission to NRC
NuScale Power LLC formally announced this week news which has been expected since last October, and that is it will submit its small modular reactor design to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a safety design review. The successful completion of the review then sets the basis for a customer applying for a combined construction and operating license (COL) to build the first unit.
NuScale has a customer and a partner. They are the Utah Area Municipal Power System (UAMPS) and Energy Northwest, which owns and operates the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant in Washington. Together they are expected to submit a license application for construction of 12 units for a total power rating of about 600 MW.
NuScale has been widely rumored to have selected a site just west of Idaho Falls, ID, for the power station. However, the company has also repeatedly stated that until the ink is dry on the customer’s application to the NRC for a COL, the fat lady will not have sung her song about where the plant will be built.
Once NuScale submits the safety design review to the NRC, the clock starts ticking on a 39 month process at the agency. Assuming NuScale submits its paperwork, which goes to the agency in digital form, by the fourth quarter of 2016, sometime in 2020 the firm’s customer will be able to proceed with a COL.
The cost of the application is being supported by a grant from DOE which will cover just over $200 million of the expected $450-500 million it will take the complete the design of the reactor and see it through the NRC process. NuScale says it has already spent over $200 million on the process.
The firm employs over 500 people most of them at its offices in the Portland, OR, area. If enough customers sign up following the UAMPS deal, the firm plans to build a factory to turn out the reactors literally by the truckload since components will fit on a flatbed or railcar.
DOE Extends uranium centrifuge project
Centrus Energy Corp, which used to be named USEC, said this week that UT-Battelle, which operates the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, has opted to extend by six months work on the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations projects. The agreement provides $42 million for the next six month increment of work under the terms of a fixed price contract.
Centrus is developing a new uranium centrifuge design for potential use by DOE for production of enriched uranium at various levels for civilian and military uses including commercial reactors and undisclosed military uses.
More funding sought for uranium cleanup at Ohio site
The State of Ohio congressional delegation has asked the Department of Energy to continue to fully fund the cleanup of the Piketon, OH, cold war era gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant. More than $200 million a year is needed to keep workers on the job. About 1,800 people are employed at the decontamination and decommissioning project.
Both U.S. Senators signed the letter as did 11 of the state’s 15 members of Congress. Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman told the Columbus Dispatch on January 24 he appreciates the proactive support of the state’s elected officials in Washington.
Benefits of Davis-Besse reactor reported by trade group study
The Nuclear Energy Institute study, titled “Economic Impacts of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station,” analyzes the impact of Davis-Besse’s operations through 2037, which is the end of its projected 60-year operating period. The facility is expected to generate nearly $30 billion in economic output for Ohio this year through 2037.
“This study confirms that Davis-Besse greatly strengthens the local, regional and state economies through job creation, tax payments, and direct and secondary spending. In many ways, Davis-Besse and its employees are extremely important to the quality of life of those who live in the communities around the facility,” said Richard Myers, NEI’s vice president for policy development. “The study absolutely affirms Davis-Besse’s importance as a powerful economic engine and a key source of clean energy for Ohio.”
Key findings of NEI’s study include:
FirstEnergy employs approximately 700 people at the facility. Because they are technical in nature, these jobs typically are higher-paying than others in the area. The annual payroll is more than $60 million excluding benefits. This direct employment stimulates another 2,500 jobs in Ottawa County, and more than 2,100 additional jobs in other industries, for a total of 5,300 jobs throughout the state.
Davis-Besse’s annual spending creates a huge ripple effect in the state: The facility’s operation stimulates $805 million of annual economic output in Ottawa County and another $295 million elsewhere in Ohio, for a total of $1.1 billion statewide.
Davis-Besse pays more than $20 million in local taxes annually to support local schools, police and fire departments, and other public services. The company’s expenditures increase economic activities that yield additional tax revenue.
Davis-Besse is a highly reliable source of electricity: In 2013, Davis-Besse maintained a capacity factor (a measure of performance reliability) of 98 percent. This is several percentage points higher than the nuclear energy industry average and far higher than other forms of electric generation. This reliable production helps offset the potentially severe price volatility of other energy sources and the intermittency of renewable electricity sources.
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