Council moves forward on nuclear power option

Washington City Offices, Washington City, Utah, June 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – As cities seek viable alternatives to coal-fueled power generation, one alternative being explored and invested in by Washington City is nuclear power. During a meeting Wednesday night, the City Council approved an agreement with the “Carbon Free Power Project” that will provide funds toward identifying potential sites for a nuclear power plant.

The “Carbon Free Power Project” is focused around the future use of small modular nuclear reactors being developed by Oregon-based NuScale Power. The compact reactors are anticipated to generate around 50 megawatts of power per unit.

NuScale Power has proposed to build a power plant housing 12 of the compact reactors and produce an estimated 600 megawatts of power. The plant is slated to be built in the area of Idaho Falls, Idaho. If the project comes to fruition, the plant will be built and operational by 2024.

We’re looking at approximately 11 megawatts, or 11,000 kilowatts (for the city) from this facility once it’s up and running.” Washington City Manager Roger Carter said.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS, and Washington state-based Energy Northwest are very interested in the project and have entered into a teaming agreement with NuScale to investigate the viability of the company’s compact nuclear reactor technology. Both UAMPS and Energy Northwest are conglomerations of municipal utilities. UAMPS serves over 40 municipal power utilities, including Washington City.

The agreement Washington City Council unanimously approved Wednesday devotes funds to a two-phase study related to identifying viable sites for the power plant, and then conducting an in-depth study into the location’s overall feasibility.

“This is the first of probably numerous agreements we’ll see,” Carter said. The project will progress in phases, with participating cities being given the option to sign or step back from the project if they no longer wish to pursue the project.

Washington City’s commitment for the first phase of the agreement is $20,000, with the overall cost being shared behind participating cities. The second phase of the agreement could run between $1.3 million to $2.6 million overall depending upon whether or not UAMPS partners with NuScale on the project. If it does, NuScale will cover half of the cost.

The project has also received a $250 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the compact reactors, Carter said.

Washington City could pull out of the project if it felt it was wasn’t viable, Carter said, but that would only apply for so long. Once the project progresses far enough, the city will be locked in, he said.

Our concern of course is making sure that we have an adequate baseload come 2024, and power, especially with our growth,” Carter said. “What we’re finding is a lot of the baseload we’ve relied on in years past is fast disappearing.”

St. George City officials also considered investing in the project, but chose to step away from it in March due to concerns over costs and not wanting to lock the city into the project just yet. However, Laurie Mangum, the city’s energy services director, said St. George may still buy into the project at some future date.

Other business

The City Council passed a resolution encouraging the Washington County Commission to put a proposed 0.25 percent local sales tax for transportation funding on the ballot for voters in November.

The ballot initiative is a part of the Transportation Infrastructure Funding Bill,  6HB 362, which passed the Utah Legislature earlier this year in an effort to address a growing shortfall in transportation funding. The legislation raises the state’s gas tax by 5 cents a gallon staring next year, and also provides a local option for counties to implement the 0.25 percent sales tax via voter approval. Food was not included as a taxable item.

Money from the sales tax would be split between the county and cities and be used exclusively for transportation infrastructure needs.

Several cities in the county, including St. George, have passed resolutions supporting the sales tax option and encouraging the County Commission to put it on the ballot. The Washington City Council also passed a resolution, but only to urge the commission to put the question the voters.

“Let the citizens decide what they want to do,” Councilman Ron Truman said.


  • Note: The Transportation Infrastructure Funding bill, 6HB362, was brought during the 2015 General Session of the Utah Legislature. It passed the Senate 20-8, with 1 not voting; from Southern Utah, Sens. Ralph Okerlund, David Hinkins, Steve Urquhart and Evan Vickers all voted for the bill. It passed the House 44-29, with 2 not voting; from Southern Utah, Reps. Brad Last, John Westwood, Michael Noel, V. Lowry Snow, Don Ipson, and Merrill Nelson voted for the bill, and Rep. Jon Stanard voted against it. The bill was signed by the governor March 27.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

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  • BIG GUY July 23, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Global warming true believers and those opposed to coal-generated electricity have no choice but to support nuclear power generation.

  • Damcho Dronma July 23, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Nuclear is not carbon free – far from it. RENEWABLE energy options (Water Wind Solar) are far better for everyone’s health, the environment and also lower cost. Win – Win – Win
    Scientists, Stanford University:

    “Q: Why don’t the plans include power generation from nuclear energy plants?

    A: Nuclear energy is not included in the solution because it results in 9-25 times more carbon and air pollution than does wind energy per unit energy produced, partly due to the fossil energy used to mine and refine uranium continuously during the plant’s life, partly due to the construction of the plant, and partly due to the fact that the time between planning and operation of a new nuclear facility is 10-19 years, whereas that of the proposed technologies (wind, water, and sunlight) is much less, generally 2-5 years for wind and solar, resulting in opportunity-cost emissions from the background fossil-fuel energy sector during the period that nuclear is waiting to come online. In addition, nuclear poses catastrophic risks due to the historic worldwide relationship between nuclear energy facilities and nuclear weapons proliferation and due to nuclear reactor accidents. Further, in the U.S., radioactive waste currently accumulates at nuclear energy facilities, and no plan exists to store that waste permanently. ” more @:

    Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) About 100% Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) All-Sector Energy Plans for the 50 United States
    February 11, 2014
    By Mark Z. Jacobson
    Guillaume Bazouin
    Atmosphere/Energy Program Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Stanford University
    Link for WWS energy plans and this document

    From a Business Perspective, business analyst, Jeremy Rifkin:
    #1 nuclear power was dead in the water in 1980’s, post Three Mile Island. Climate change, “no CO2” (Carbon dioxide) Nuclear power is 6% total in the world.
    Scientists tell us that if it were to have an impact, would have to be 20% to have a MINIMUM impact. To achieve that, would have to replace all existing nuclear plants and build 1,600 more – that would mean building 3 nuclear plants EVERY 30 DAYS for 40 YEARS… by then, Climate Change will have run its course.
    He would be surprised if 1 or 2 are replaced.

    #2 70 years in and there is no solution for Nuclear Waste. No underground solution is plausible. Any geologist will tell you we live on tectonic plates; underground cannot be secure.

    #3 – we run into Uranium Deficits, just with the existing 400 plants. Prices go up. We could recycle for plutonium.. in an age of uncertainty, and terrorism. NOT

    #4 – and finally, the big one, the one most people do not realize. We don’t have the water. Nuclear consumes vast amounts of water to operate. France uses 50% of their water for nuclear. On a coastal region, salt water, risk another Fukushima. It does not fit new technology — Decentralized (Renewable!)
    Japan, Italy and Germany are out. I’d be surprised if nuclear has any life left.”

    Keep Utah safe! No to Nuclear. Build Renewable energy infrastructure for a healthy energy secure future.

    • fun bag July 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      whats all this?

    • wilbur July 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      bla bla blah blah blah bla blah – enviroweenie dribble at its best (or worst, if you will)

      new reactors coming on line in Georgia just fine, thank you, and new, modern, and modular reactor designs on the drawing boards. the country needs a mix of technologies, all technologies, to supply a growing population. dancho, however, will be happy to freeze to death in the dark to save the planet.

    • BIG GUY July 23, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      DAMCHO DRONMA, what do you propose when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? Like most nights in St. George. Got an idea other than coal or nuclear? It’ll make you rich beyond your wildest dreams if you do.
      According to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption today comes from solar and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040. Bill Gates and Google both come to the same conclusion: wind and solar are nice dreams but completely impractical with today’s technology.

  • Bender July 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    NuScale is majority owned by Fluor, a $7B market cap 100-year-old engineering company. The proposed site is on a federal reservation with a long history of nuclear projects next to a city, Idaho Falls, with long history of involvement, and sympathy, for nuclear energy. There should be little local opposition. This project may end up being the real deal – small scale, affordable and inherently safe nuclear power modules. Not sure I would recommend a city join themselves at the hip to this project but a small investment and keeping a finger on the pulse of the project might be wise.
    Solar and wind have a big future but the only near term option, besides natural gas and coal, to provide reliable base power for the grid is nuclear. It’s time to act as a species and stop loading the atmosphere with carbon. Nuclear is the best bet right now.
    DAMCHO DRONMA, I don’t buy your carbon assertion concerning nuclear.

  • beentheredonethat July 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Give the whole project to Ence! It’ll be safe.

  • Free Parking July 24, 2015 at 4:13 am

    Hey DAMCHO..I don’t buy anything you said…. Yawwwwwn blah blah blah Yawwwwwn blah blah blah blah Yawwwwwn blah blah blah blah blah

  • beacon July 24, 2015 at 10:17 am

    DAMCHO certainly provides more concrete info than most of the other blather here. Where will the waste go – to Utah, I’ll bet. Just what we need. Funny that Washington City, one of Washington County’s cities that pays the least for energy and feels they can perhaps waste it, are the ones to jump on the nuclear idea to help keep their costs low and waste high?

    • BIG GUY July 24, 2015 at 11:36 am

      BEACON, when either you or DAMCHO tell us where to get electricity when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, we’ll listen to your “concrete info.” Until then, take your pick: coal, natural gas or nuclear.
      Note that I did NOT endorse nuclear (nor do I oppose it). I merely said that global warming true believers (like DAMCHO) who oppose carbon-based fuels must by default support nuclear since it’s the only alternative.

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