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New nuclear power plant coming to Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls will soon be home to brand new nuclear technology.

NuScale Power, a nuclear power company, has created a new nuclear technology to provide energy to cities and Idaho Falls is getting the first power plant. The plant for small modular reactors will be built on the Idaho National Lab site. It will contain 12 reactors. They are placed in containers under ground and under water. NuScale Power says Idaho was the right place for their first one.

“They’re the perfect fit for areas where there’s not a lot of natural gasses readily available,” Jose Reyes, co-founder of NuScale Power, said. “For utilities that have coal fire plants that they would like to retire.”

They were approached by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems about building the plant.

“The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems was interested in retiring some of their coal fire plants and so they were looking at different options,” Reyes said. “They met with us and discussed our design. It seemed to be a very good fit for the Idaho area.

These reactors don’t just produce power, but can bring clean water as well.

“For example, one module can produce about 15-million gallons of clean water per day,” Reyes said. “So we looked at other countries as well as in the us. And what I typically hear is that we need not just electricity, we also need clean water.”

The plant would bring more than 1,200 construction jobs and almost 400 permanent positions to the area.

“A NuScale power plant would mean tremendous economic opportunity for our community,” Jackie Flowers, general manager of Idaho Falls Power, said. “Grid stability for our region and importantly it would be advancing the safest design in the world.”

There are many benefits to building these small modular reactors.

“Well, the real benefit is that they’re much easier to manufacture,” Reyes said. “They can be manufactured in a factory . They can be shipped in three or four parts to the site and installed as the modules are needed. So instead of building a large plant all at once, you can add modules in 50 megawatt increments as you need the power in your region.”

Flowers says that having the INL is an added benefit.

“Of course we have the world’s expertise in nuclear energy right here in our backyard,” Flower said. “And so for us it’s an opportunity to maintain that leadership role in advancing nuclear generation, tap into that intellectual talent that we already.”

It will be a while before the plant is up and running. NuScale says they plan for it to be open in 2026.

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