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Murray Journal

Power group asks Murray for $45,000

Mar 16, 2020 02:01PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray City funds cost analysis of nuclear project. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray City has agreed to the Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS) request for an early payment of $45,000 for a cost analysis of a small modular reactor (SMR). Murray City Power, which is part of the UAMPS consortium, signed on to receive nuclear power from NuScale, the company developing the SMR, an experimental reactor that has never provided electrical power to community-owned power systems. 

“It was decided by UAMPS, in October 2019, that in order to give its members (Murray is one of the cities) more of a detailed costing of the project, that it would hire a firm out of Washington, D.C., to do a detailed cost analysis,” Murray Power General Manager Blaine Haacke said. “This cost analysis was expected all along over the next few months. But UAMPS decided that sooner would be better to do this study. So, UAMPS sped the process up about four to five months, which necessitated me coming to the Murray Council for more money.”

The first phase of investigating the feasibility of an SMR project using NuScale technology is already underway. The project could consist of up to 12 50 MW reactors located at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls. The feasibility analysis includes engineering and regulatory activities to complete a site selection analysis to allow the project participants with the necessary information to decide whether to proceed with construction.

According to Haacke, “The study is happening right now and is ongoing after each of the participant cities agreed to be included in the action that our council took near the end of last year. Murray agreed, basically, to pay for its portion of the cost analysis now versus in the middle of 2020. The need for the immediate study will help our council when the next decision-making date comes at the end of March or early April. It is our intention to have a detailed costing of the entire project at that time.”

By the end of March 2020, Murray will have invested nearly $280,000 in the project-licensing process. UAMPS has a bridge loan financing mechanism in place so that Murray has not expended any money yet. If this project is deemed feasible, the funds expended will be rolled over into long-term bonding as part of the overall cost of the project. 

“It isn’t intended that any money would change hands except through bonding at a later date,” said Haacke, who is also on the Board of Directors for UAMPS.

NuScale, the designer, and UAMPS are asking for a design license for the small modular technology from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The usual NRC process takes about eight to 10 years, but, according to Haacke, the SMR technology licensing process has been streamlined, in part because of the Department of Energy’s interest in the technology. Haacke expects that the SMR design license will be awarded in October of this year. That will close one phase of the licensing process. Once the licensing is given for the design, NuScale will submit a construction licensing submittal in Idaho. This phase of licensing is usually a formality and could be awarded approval within a year. The design phase is more scrutinized. The construction phase is the second part of the process. 

“We, as a Murray participant in the UAMPS project, are continuing to fund portions of the SMR licensing process. NuScale and Fluor (an engineering and construction company) are one-fourth partners in the licensing process. UAMPS is a one-fourth financial partner as well. And the DOE is one half of this phase. We, all partners, are watching this licensing process and answering questions for the NRC that might arise. There have been no issues with safety or design flaws noted. The process has been smooth,” Haacke said.