Talking Nuclear Energy from Washington State to Washington D.C.

This fall, two important meetings moved the Pacific Northwest and the nation closer to the eventuality of Small Modular Reactors on the grid, and to building those SMRs in new manufacturing facilities. One meeting took place in Washington state and the other in Washington D.C. The NuScale Power SMR, born of Oregon State University, was featured at both meetings.

Energy Northwest is part of the SMR initiative: The first commercial NuScale reactors are scheduled to be installed in Idaho with the power going to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (based in Salt Lake City), and Energy Northwest acting as the first operator. Hopefully, this will be the first of many SMRs to be installed throughout the country.

Now to the meetings…

The White House Summit on Nuclear Energy: Nov. 6, 2015

The White House organized the Washington D.C. meeting and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to nuclear energy. The fact sheet for the White House Summit is titled: Obama Administration Announces Actions to Ensure that Nuclear Energy Remains a Vibrant Component of the United States’ Clean Energy Strategy.

Why? The fact sheet makes clear what some are still reluctant to understand:

Nuclear power, which in 2014 generated about 60 percent of carbon-free electricity in the United States, continues to play a major role in efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.

As America leads the global transition to a low-carbon economy, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of our clean energy strategy.

To summarize, nuclear provides clean air energy and jobs. We need both.

Of particular interest to Washington state, the Summit announced many new initiatives for bringing SMRs to market, and to the grid. One major initiative is…

Simulation Support:

The Department of Energy Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors is signing an agreement with NuScale to develop modeling and simulation tools. In this cost-shared venture, CASL will install simulation tools on NuScale systems, and NuScale will simulate performance using the CASL tools.

And after simulation comes…

Licensing Support:

The Department of Energy is investing $452 million dollars, over a six-year span, beginning in 2012. This money supports the engineering expenses at NRC that will be associated with first-of-a-kind licensing for SMRs. This is also another cost-share agreement with private industry. Without this type of industry-government cooperation, the cost of obtaining a first-of-a-kind license would be prohibitive. Estimates for a first-of-a-kind license run to over one billion dollars.

You can watch the entire White House Summit on Nuclear Energy at this link.

Dr. Jose Reyes of NuScale is a member of the Innovation Panel, which discusses new types of reactors. This panel begins at 3:05  (three hours and five minutes) into the program. During his portion, Dr. Reyes explains the worldwide potential demand for small nuclear reactors.

We’ve provided a video clip of a portion of his presentation below:


The Washington State Task Force

The Washington State Legislature’s Joint Select Task Force on Nuclear Energy focuses on encouraging the possible role of Washington state as a base for the manufacture of SMRs. As you can see in the Final Report from last year (issued in December) some of the members of the Task Force toured NuScale Power in November 2014.

NETF oct 29

Rep. Terry Nealey speaking during the Washington state Task Force meeting Oct. 29 in Kennewick, Wash.

The Washington State Task Force is an on-going effort, and far more focused than the Washington D.C. Summit Meeting, which seems to have been a one-time event.  The DC meeting was a very nice one-time event, because of the support shown for SMRs, but without the virtues of a task force.

In the document above, you can see that the Washington State Task Force reviews many aspects of developing SMRs, both technical aspects and the possible benefits of new manufacturing in Washington state.

The Washington D.C. meeting did not include any written presentations, viewgraphs or visual aids. In contrast, the Washington State Task force has an abundance of information in presentations.  The 2014 presentations are here. I especially recommend the DOE presentation on  SMR market perspective, and the presentation by Energy Northwest, and NuScale Power.

The meeting notes for 2015 are not yet posted, but they are even more informative. In 2015, NuScale shows a slide in which the components necessary for a NuScale reactor are shown in black type, while the components necessary for a full-scale reactor are shown in light-gray type.




This is a very dramatic slide, despite being all words in black and white!  It shows that SMRs are not just shrunken versions of full-scale reactors: They are truly re-engineered and simplified. Passive safety design can actually be a simpler design.

D.C. and Washington State: Both playing their best roles

I would say that if you really want to know about how SMRs are going to be built and deployed, the ongoing task force of the Washington State legislature has solid information and readable documents. However, I hope that the Nuclear Energy Summit in Washington D.C. will also be helpful to the future of nuclear energy and the future of Washington state.  In that meeting, DOE in Washington D.C. announced it would also play its best role: helping nuclear entrepreneurs access the National Labs, and helping new reactors get licensed.

Washington D.C. and Washington state cooperating on Small Modular Reactors: that would be a win-win for everyone.

(Post by Meredith Angwin)

Continuing their service through Public Power

This week, Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, named Energy Northwest a 2016 Military Friendly® Employer for its efforts in recruiting veterans to work at the public power agency.

Criteria for the designation include a benchmark survey score across key programs and policies, such as the strength of company military recruiting efforts, percentage of new hires with prior military service, retention programs for veterans, and company policies on National Guard and Reserve service.

It is an honor for us, as Energy Northwest is committed to hiring military talent, knowing first-hand that recruiting from the military community is not only the “right thing to do,” but it makes good business sense.

“There is a strong relationship between the military, particularly the Navy, and commercial nuclear power,” said Brent Ridge, EN vice president for Corporate Services/chief financial & risk officer. “But we have found great team members from all branches of the service who have strengthened our organization.”

Energy Northwest employs nearly 300 military veterans in departments including Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Health Physics, Security and Human Resources.

We asked several of our employees who are veterans to talk to us about how their military service prepared them for positions in the energy industry.

Their responses are below:

Amy D., Human Resources

First, I must say that joining the military was the first decision I made as an adult and the best decision I’ve made thus far. Without the military, I wouldn’t be where I am today so I’m truly grateful for all the values and skills I received during my experience. Vets---AmyThose values include integrity, respect for authority, teamwork and to always have a plan. By learning those values early on, I’ve been able to structure not only my career, but my personal life around those core values.

To me, working with integrity means having high standards not only in yourself, but your coworkers. The teamwork I see in other groups as well as my own, leads us to trusting each other and leaning on one another for help when needed. To me, that is the key to any organization achieving a favorable outcome no matter what the task may be.

Spain A., Operations

Teamwork. My experience in the Navy taught me the benefits of teamwork. Whether it was getting the USS Stennis ready for its first sea trial; maintaining the USS Lincoln Vets---Spainbattle ready in the Persian Gulf or helping keep submarines in top shape down at Pearl Harbor Shipyard; all could not be done successfully without teamwork.

I learned early on in my naval service how much great teamwork, within the department and across departmental lines, ensures mission success. I thrive in a teamwork environment and that is why I enjoy working at Energy Northwest. It takes teamwork to strive for excellence and the teamwork I’ve seen here is on par with my most successful Navy tours.

Blanca A., Energy Services & Development

I believe that working in today’s energy industry, individuals must have passion and be driven with a can-do attitude. You have to be flexible and open to the changing environments. One must provide excellent customer services to internal and external customers. Overall, you have to be successful at stakeholder management.

The Marine Corps empowered me with invaluable skills that I use on a day-to-day basis in my line of work. I have a strong pride in my performance that enables me to beVets---Blanca driven. In the Marine Corps you constantly have to shift gears and take a new approach on things, this has enabled me to embrace changes and be more open minded. I remember my gunnery sergeant always saying, “You are a Marine 24/7,” meaning we had to hold ourselves at higher standards and be more of a role model to the public. I think of this when I provide customer service and strive to represent EN in the best way possible.

Throughout my entire military career I worked in a unit, maintaining constructive relationships. This enabled me to be a strong team player focused on the overall success of the team versus individual success. My military experience has prepared me for work in today’s energy industry.

Bob Schuetz, Plant General Manager

Vets---BobThe military culture has many similarities to the culture found at successful plants in the nuclear industry. Whatever their service or specialty, military veterans all recognize the importance of teamwork and camaraderie to organizational success. Veterans understand the need for clear standards and expectations, and then rigorously uphold and reinforce them. On this Veterans Day, take the time to honor their service, and thank them for choosing to be part of our team.

Randy C., Energy Services & Development

Vets---RandyI served six years in the nuclear Navy as a submariner. I operated the electric plant on board the USS Thomas Jefferson. My work today at the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project directly correlates to the experience I gained in the military with starting and stopping generating units, operating backup emergency generators and synchronizing separate power sources to each other and to the power grid. It was a tremendous learning experience and has served me well in the energy industry for more than 30 years.

Thank you to all who have served.

(Posted by John Dobken)