CHEYENNE, Wyo (AP) — A next-generation small nuclear plant will be built into a soon-to-be-retired coal-fired power plant…
CHEYENNE, Wyo (AP) — A next-generation, small nuclear power plant will be built in Wyoming, a soon-to-be-retired coal-fired power plant over the next several years, business and government officials said Wednesday.
Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and founder and president of TerraPower, said the plant with a sodium reactor and molten salt energy storage system would perform better, be safer and cost less than conventional nuclear power.
Bellevue, Washington-based TerraPower is working with Rocky Mountain Power, an electric utility serving Wyoming and other western states, to install a natrium reactor at one of the utility’s four power plants in Wyoming, The location is to be decided at the end of this year.
“We think natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” Gates said at a news conference hosted by Gov. Mark Gordon by video link. “Wyoming has been a leader in energy for more than a century, and we hope our investment in Natrium will help Wyoming remain a leader for many decades to come.”
Officials said Wyoming is the top uranium-mining state, and the reactor will use uranium from remote mines on the high plains.
Wyoming is also the top coal mining state. But the industry has faced a dramatic slowdown over the past decade as utilities have switched to cheaper and cleaner-burning gas to generate electricity.
There are plans to shut down many coal-fired electricity in the West in the coming years, including some in Wyoming. A nuclear plant with hundreds of well-maintained jobs, already sending power over transmission lines, could offset the economic shock of a coal plant retirement.
TeraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque said the plant would be a “multi-billion dollar project” with costs split equally between government and private industry.
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