The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a multi-year cost-share award of $1.355 billion to a new special purpose entity wholly owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) for the development and construction of the Carbon Free Power Project, which will be the first NuScale small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) project in the U.S.
The award will serve as a funding vehicle to advance the CFPP as funds are appropriated by Congress, UAMPS noted in an Oct. 16 news release.
The 720-megawatt electric (MWe) NuScale power plant will be located at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory site near Idaho Falls, Idaho.
UAMPS said that the $1.355 billion award, allocated over 10 years, will fund the one-time costs for the first-of-a-kind project, as funds are appropriated by Congress, to reflect what second and subsequent NuScale plants would cost.
This will help ensure that the levelized cost of energy target price of $55 megawatt hours can be achieved at a level of risk UAMPS can manage.
“That price makes the CFPP competitive with other non-intermittent dispatchable energy sources like combined cycle natural gas plants, but without greenhouse gas emissions. It will ensure long-term affordable energy to UAMPS member participants while avoiding exposure to greenhouse regulation and compliance costs,” UAMPS said.
“We appreciate this tremendous vote of confidence in CFPP by the Department of Energy,” said Douglas Hunter, UAMPS CEO and General Manager, in a statement. “It is entirely appropriate for DOE to help de-risk this first-of-a-kind, next-generation nuclear project. This is a great example of a partnership with DOE to lower the cost of introduction of transformative advanced nuclear technology that will provide affordable, carbon-free electricity all over the country and the world. This project is much bigger than UAMPS itself.”
Hunter said UAMPS members are especially supportive of the project because it will complement and enable additional intermittent renewable energy, especially wind and solar, that are being added to member energy portfolios.
Established in 1980, UAMPS is an energy services interlocal agency of the state of Utah. As a project-based consortium, UAMPS provides a variety of power supply, transmission and other services to its 47 members, which include public power utilities in six western states: Utah, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
The CFPP will be comprised of 12 60-MWe nuclear power modules to be provided by NuScale Power. Electricity from the plant will be distributed to customers of 33 UAMPS member utilities in five states. Other western utilities are expected to join the project in the future.
The 12 small modular reactors in the project will provide the flexibility to ramp up and down as needed to follow load and complement intermittent renewable supply.
UAMPS noted that energy from the project will replace electric generation from coal plants that are nearing the end of their life cycles. The CFPP, combined with UAMPS renewable projects, will enable many members to completely decarbonize their energy portfolios, it said.
The CFPP “has received strong bipartisan support across several administrations and has broad support in the U.S. Congress. The SMR technology will help UAMPS’ participating member communities, states, and regions to meet their goals to de-carbonize the electrical grid,” UAMPS went on to note.