- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A Utah energy cooperative has selected a site to build a small commercial nuclear reactor in eastern Idaho.

The Post Register reports (https://bit.ly/1X7PyEP ) that Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems on Tuesday identified a 35-acre site at the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory federal facility.

Oregon-based NuScale Power would build the small modular reactors that can individually produce 50 megawatts. Additional reactors could be built as power demands grow, with up to 12 reactors producing 600 megawatts.

Experts say the reactors are designed to be safer than conventional nuclear plants by being able to shut down without human involvement in the event of a disaster.

Doug Hunter, CEO of the power company, said the property about 6 miles southeast of Lost River Rest Stop is an ideal location because the geology is stable and it won’t interfere with facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory.

He said the company needs to add new sources of clean energy as its coal plants close in coming years due to economic challenges and environmental regulations.

Officials say the first reactor could be running by 2024.

“That’s an important date for us, because that’s when our coal plants start shutting down,” Hunter said.

The power company has 45 members in eight Western states, including nearby Idaho Falls.

“We once again find ourselves on the leading edge relating to new nuclear technology,” Idaho Falls Power General Manager Jackie Flowers said.

The cost for 12 small modular reactors is about $3 billion, NuScale has said, compared with about $15 billion for a conventional nuclear plant. Part of the cost savings comes from building the modular reactors at a factory and then trucking them to their locations.

Officials have said nuclear waste from the small reactors would be stored at the site in protective casings that could withstand earthquakes.

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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