Barrasso, Lummis, Cheney: Wyoming the right choice for new TerraPower nuclear plant - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Barrasso, Lummis, Cheney: Wyoming the right choice for new TerraPower nuclear plant

A proposed design of the “Natrium” nuclear plant that will be built in Wyoming shared in a PacifiCorps press release Wednesday. (PacifiCorps)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s United States Congressional Delegation are unanimous in their enthusiasm that Wyoming has been selected as the site of a new TerraPower advanced nuclear reactor.

Following Governor Mark Gordon’s announcement Wednesday that the new “Natrium” reactor will constructed in the Cowboy State, Rep. Liz Cheney said in a press release that Wyoming is “the best-equipped state in the nation to produce affordable and reliable energy, and that will be enhanced with the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant.”

“On top of strengthening our state’s energy industry, this plant will bolster our economy by creating new construction and energy production jobs,” Cheney said.

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Gordon said Wednesday that the construction of the plant would create hundreds of jobs, and once the plant is operational, the plant would support a comparable number of jobs and provide comparable salaries as the Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorps) coal plant that it will replace.

While an exact location has not been determined, the nuclear plant could potentially replace the Dave Johnston Plant near Glenrcock, the Jim Bridger plant near Point of Rocks or the Wyodak Plant near Gillette. Rocky Mountain Power also operate the Naughton plant near Kemmerer.

The plant could be operational in seven years.

Cheney’s approach to providing energy across the nation is similar to Gordon’s, who has the goal of achieving net-negative carbon emissions with an “all-the-above” energy strategy.

“Nuclear power is a key element in the all-of-the-above energy approach that our state and country must follow,” Cheney said. “That approach also needs to include the continued utilization of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, which are national treasures in Wyoming and are dependable energy resources.”

“I want to thank the private sector partners from TerraPower and Rocky Mountain Power for recognizing the substantial benefits that operating a nuclear power plant in Wyoming will bring. As this project moves forward, I will continue to work in Washington to fight for our energy industry and the livelihoods that it supports across our state.”

Sen. John Barrasso’s office said that Barrasso “has been a major supporter of nuclear innovation.”

“As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, he introduced and enacted bipartisan legislation to support the development of advanced nuclear reactors,” Barrasso’s office said in a release following Wednesday’s announcement. “The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) was signed into law in January of 2019. NEIMA requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to establish a regulatory framework for America’s innovators, who seek to develop, license, and deploy advanced nuclear reactors and other technologies. This new regulatory framework will help support innovation in the nuclear energy sector.”

Barrasso said during the announcement that he also supports and all-the-above energy strategy.

“We have all of the energy sources here,” he said of Wyoming. “We have everything – oil, gas, coal, the renewables, and of course, uranium for nuclear power.”

“The country is going to continue to depend on Wyoming energy for decades and decades to come. Our families who live here are going to benefit from those jobs and the communities in which they live are going to benefit as well.”

Barrasso also said that Wyoming is the nation’s top producer of uranium and that the new nuclear plant could support uranium mining in the state.

“This is the future of nuclear energy in America compared to what we’ve been doing over the last 65 years with the energy being clean, affordable, reliable, safe,” Barrasso said.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis said on Facebook that she is “proud of the work that Governor Gordon and Senator Barrasso have done to advance nuclear energy production here.”

“It’s great to see TerraPower and PacifiCorp recognize what we in Wyoming have always known: there’s no better place to do business,” Lummis said. “I look forward to supporting this project and continuing to support Wyoming’s place as the number one net energy exporter in the nation.”

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial funding to demonstrate the Natrium technology with TerraPower signing a cooperative agreement with the DOE in May 2021.

The new nuclear plant is intended as a demonstration of the viability of the new TerraPower and GE Hitachi “Natrium” technology. The reactor is a sodium fast reactor that relies on a molten salt energy storage system.