Tri Cities seeks SMRs for post clean up future

A comprehensive piece on last week’s Nuclear Energy Task Force meeting in Pasco, Wash.

Neutron Bytes

Despite predictions that the grandchildren of today’s nuclear waste workers will still be at it, there is an end to the billions of dollars in federal funds for cleanup at Hanford.

NuScale Power LogoEconomic development efforts in the Tri-Cities region around Richland, WA, turned their focus to the potential to become a manufacturing center for small modular reactors. Their pitch for support includes getting a state legislative task force on board to provide help in landing an assembly plant for one of the major vendors. Two of them are nearby in the Pacific Northwest being NuScale in  Corvallis, OR, and TerraPower in Bellevue, WA.

Of the two, NucScale has better commercial prospects due to its reliance on light water reactor (LWR) technology. TerraPower’s unique, and as yet unproven, design will need partners with very deep pockets to license its technology and build a first of a kind unit. NuScale will offer customers…

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Energy Northwest, BPA Launch Demand Response Pilot Project

Energy Northwest and Bonneville Power Administration announced a regional demand response program expected to come online in January 2015. Under the contract, EN will develop a 19-megawatt demand response pilot project with the option of bringing online additional demand response resources up to a total of 25 megawatts.

Energy Northwest expects up to $2 million in gross revenue value from the pilot project; much of this funding will support the comprehensive data gathering, monitoring, control and communications infrastructure and processes necessary to implement the regional program.

“This agreement furthers the Energy Northwest vision to be the region’s leader in power generation and energy solutions through sustained excellence in performance and innovation,” said Energy Northwest CEO Mark Reddemann.

Generation imbalance and reliability on the transmission grid is a challenge for balancing authorities such as BPA to manage. This agreement will explore the potential for energy end-users to lower within-hour consumption as a balancing management resource. Energy Northwest will lead the effort to assemble and operate an aggregated “fast reaction” demand response-capacity resource and BPA will evaluate the project’s ability to supply electricity reserves and other regional transmission system needs.

In the past, BPA provided balancing services such as these being tested solely with capacity from its hydro system. However, growing demands on the hydro system have limited its flexibility to provide this capacity so BPA is exploring third-party capacity sources.

Conceptually, demand response builds on the idea that while individual electricity loads are relatively minor compared to the scale of a regional transmission grid, many loads lowered and raised at once may serve as a cost effective alternative to building – or purchasing – the output of additional electric generating stations.

Energy Northwest will develop the Demand Response Aggregation Control System, a comprehensive data gathering, monitoring, control and communications infrastructure. Communication devices will be installed by each participating utility to report to and receive direction from the DRACS via secure cloud-based data paths. DRACS will be hosted within Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center, a U.S. Department of Energy-funded incubator facility built and operated for such roles.


The DRACS infrastructure will support the demand response initiative. (Click to Enlarge)

“This regional demand response program will be the first-of-its-kind program in the Northwest led by public power, for public power,” said Jim Gaston, General Manager of Energy Services and Development.

Energy Northwest and its public utility partners will assemble diverse electric loads from customers willing and able to reduce their electric demand on short notice. The participating public utilities that provide the customer loads for the demand response resource are expected to include utility participants in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“The Demand Response project team remains open for participation from additional regional public utilities,” said John Steigers, Generation Project Developer and project manager for Energy Northwest’s demand response program. “We anticipate the demand response program will be a regional resource that will grow in value as additional utilities, load assets, and products are added to the resource.”

–By Laura Scheele, Energy Northwest

Electricity in the Northwest

With a grid dominated by hydropower and nuclear power, the Northwest is blessed with electricity that is

  • abundant
  • affordable
  • safe
  • emits very little greenhouse gas
  • non-polluting.

For example, Washington state is the largest producer of hydropower in the United States, and has the lowest electricity prices of any state (combined prices from all sectors). (See here).

The Northwest is also blessed with civic-minded, publicly owned utilities. Energy Northwest is a not-for-profit public power agency: it owns Columbia Generating Station (nuclear), wind turbines, a solar installation, and a hydro facility. The electricity from these projects is sold, at-cost, to the project participants.

The future of electricity in the Northwest

Unfortunately, it is easy to take blessings for granted. In the future, people who live in the Northwest will continue to need abundant, clean, affordable energy. However, the energy landscape is always changing. The choices we make now will ensure that future, and this blog is about those choices.

Some recent developments affect the energy picture in the Northwest. These include:

  • rapid growth of wind power in Washington State,
  • new and proposed rules for hydro. These rules will safeguard salmon runs but may affect the amount and timing of hydro power availability
  • dedicated anti-nuclear groups sponsoring “studies” aimed at the only nuclear plant in Washington State
  • shale gas from Canada which is abundant and low-cost now, but is expected to be increasingly higher cost in the future
  • Energy Northwest becoming a leader in the deployment of small modular reactors, through a federally-funded project
  • climate changes that may affect rainfall, hydro power, and crop patterns

This blog will include facts and comments on most of these issues.Clean Air Energy

Columbia Generating Station and this blog

Many of the blog posts will be about Columbia Generating Station. Columbia has been an asset to the region. It provides 1170 MW of safe, clean, reliable, cost-effective power. It also provides good jobs, charitable donations, and taxes. Columbia Generating Station is a boon to the state and to the region.

This blog is sponsored by Energy Northwest, owner of Columbia Generating Station. This is a blog, however, not a series of policy statements by Energy Northwest. The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the bloggers. Statements in this blog are not official policy statements of Energy Northwest.

– by Meredith Angwin