Letter to the Editor: Exploring nuclear energy makes sense for Southern Utah’s cities

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — A Jan. 12 opinion letter made negative assertions about nuclear energy and, particularly, a small modular reactor project being studied by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

We wish to set the record straight. We represent Southern Utah communities that are participating with UAMPS to investigate whether to build an SMR project called the Carbon Free Power Project at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

Nuclear energy has provided safe, reliable, clean, carbon-free electricity for 60 years in thousands of communities and many countries across the world. While a few accidents have occurred, nuclear is the safest source of energy as measured by the amount of energy produced.

  • New next-generation small modular reactor technology takes safety to a whole new level, with passive safety features that make the chances of a serious radioactive contamination event infinitesimally small.
  • Nuclear produces the vast majority of carbon-free energy in the United States and across the world. Because it is steady and reliable, nuclear enables and complements intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar.
  • Many people in the environmental community are embracing nuclear energy and especially SMRs. For example, Obama Administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and environmentalist Carol Browner, who was Climate Change Czar for President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency administrator for President Bill Clinton, both support nuclear energy, combined with renewables, as the only realistic way to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Both support the Carbon Free Power Project. Browner has said it would be “irresponsible” not to use nuclear energy to reduce carbon emissions. Many other environmentalists have reached the same conclusion.
  • SMRs will not produce more waste, as per amount of energy produced, as large traditional reactors. In fact, current studies indicate SMRs will be more efficient.
  • SMRs can be air-cooled, using very little water. Studies are currently underway to determine how the Carbon Free Power Project will be cooled. Whatever system is selected, it will use far less water than a traditional nuclear plant.
  • SMRs will produce steady, safe, carbon-free, affordable electricity, comparable in price to power produced from natural gas. Nuclear energy will ensure diverse energy portfolios and will stabilize the grid, allowing additional production of intermittent renewable energy.
  • Spent fuel can be safely stored until a permanent repository is designated.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy, under both the Obama and Trump administrations, has been a champion of next generation nuclear energy and is a key partner with UAMPS in studying whether to build the Carbon Free Power Project.

For all of those reasons, we believe it is prudent to continue to investigate whether to build the Carbon Free Power Project and ensure carbon-free, reliable, affordable electricity to our customers long into the future.

Submitted by LaVARR WEBB on behalf of the following signatories:

  • ISAAC JONES, Enterprise.
  • DAVE IMLAY, Hurricane.
  • JACK TAYLOR, Santa Clara.
  • RICK HANSEN, Washington City.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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