(From a news release)
Washington State Sen. Sharon Brown today called on Gov. Jay Inslee and members of both political parties to work together on bringing Washington closer to achieving its carbon-reduction goals by embracing emerging technologies, including development of small modular reactors (SMRs).
“The goal is to create a Washington that isn’t reliant on fossil fuels,” Brown said. “There is no reason we cannot all work together to achieve that goal, but we must do so in a way that uses a balanced, all-of-the-above approach, one that doesn’t harm working families and our economy, but actually helps create the high-paying family-wage jobs they need.”
On Friday, Brown, R-Kennewick, joined fellow members of the Washington Joint Select Task Force on Nuclear Energy for a tour of NuScale Power’s headquarters in Corvallis, Ore. The tour featured some of the cutting-edge work being conducted to design the next generation of SMR plants, which take less time and money to build, and are scalable and safer. The innovative reactor and plant design includes a module that can generate 50 megawatts of electrical power, with the ability to add modules as electricity demand grows, plug and play.
“As our population grows, getting affordable, clean energy to homes and businesses is a top priority,” said Brown. “Washington is fortunate to get 73 percent of its energy from hydropower. It’s clean, inexpensive and renewable, but that’s only part of the solution. It will take every energy source we have – and then some – to keep up with demand, including wind, solar and carbon-free nuclear power.”
Brown also pointed out that there is broad bipartisan support for SMRs, here and in Washington, D.C. On Aug. 6, 2013, Inslee wrote to the U.S. Department of Energy regarding his support of SMRs:
“The Tri-Cities community in Eastern Washington is an ideal partner for the USDOE in this initiative. As you know, the Tri-Cities is home to USDOE’s Hanford Site — formerly a key component of our nation’s defense weapons complex, and today host to the nation’s largest stockpile of nuclear waste.
“Cleanup of the Hanford Site is one of my highest priorities. By siting an SMR plant at Hanford on land leased by Energy Northwest, we can help meet the growing power requirements for the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.”
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, himself a nuclear physicist, recently called “…acceleration of the timelines for commercialization of small modular reactors through cost sharing arrangements with industry partners…” one of his key goals.
Brown, whose 8th Legislative District includes the Columbia Generating Station, the Pacific Northwest’s only commercial nuclear-energy facility, has been instrumental in promoting nuclear energy in the Legislature, including securing a $500,000 state Department of Commerce grant to study the issue. The grant, awarded to the Tri-City Development Council last year, funded a site analysis of Hanford as a possible location for a new federal SMR.
The study found that siting an SMR at the Washington Nuclear Power Plant Unit No. 1 site at Hanford would benefit from existing infrastructure and licensing documentation, including a previously-issued Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction license. The study also highlighted that a “SMR would offer a carbon-free base load alternative to offset generation fluctuations associated with wind energy and future solar plants.” The region’s nuclear-trained workforce would also be a plus.
Brown believes becoming a leader in clean-energy technology offers tremendous economic-development gains for Washington. “If we don’t act now other states and countries are poised to take the lead in SMR development and Washington will lose out on all of those good paying jobs,” said Brown.
According to NuScale Power, establishing Washington as a key partner in SMR deployment would:
- Make Washington a potential “desired location” for NuScale supply chain members;
- Create approximately 1,000 construction jobs at peak, for a duration of 2-3 years;
- Produce 360 full-time plant operation jobs at average annual salaries of $85,000; and
- Result in indirect economic benefits and associated job multipliers.
“If you’re looking for green jobs; we’ve found them,” said Brown. “SMRs have great potential to provide affordable, clean energy for the state and more jobs for the people of the Tri-Cities. By working together, we can achieve a win for employers, a win for consumers and a win for the environment.”
(posted by John Dobken)