ATVG Support of SMRs
By: Mike Arms, ATVG Executive Director
Our ATVG membership heard a detailed presentation on Winter Storm Elliott from TVA at our January meeting. The presentation provided an hour-by-hour break-down of the events on December 23rd and 24th. The timeline included the loss of Cumberland Unit 1followed a few hours later by the loss of Cumberland Unit 2. With the entire Tennessee River Valley approaching 5 degrees Fahrenheit from a frigid winter storm front that produced a 40 degree temperature drop in a few short hours, the rolling black-outs were mandated to protect the TVA grid. Throughout this weather crisis TVA’s nuclear fleet performed superbly. This nuclear performance begs the question, “Will Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) be the solution to a similar future crisis?”
ATVG is on record with two resolutions of support for nuclear energy and for SMR’s. Now the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has certified the design for what will be the first SMR in the nation. The new design is inherently safer than the prior large nuclear reactors.
The rule that certifies this design is now published in the Federal Register. This certification means companies seeking to build and operate a nuclear power plant can pick the design for a 50-mega-watt, advanced light-water SMR by Oregon-based NuScale Power and apply to the NRC for a license.
The NRC certification is the final determination that the design is acceptable for use, so this design cannot be legally challenged during the licensing process when someone applies to build and operate a nuclear power plant.
With an approved design in place SMRs are no longer an abstract concept but a new clean, green power source. ATVG has always supported nuclear power as the logical answer for utilities’ transition from fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse emissions. Our organization remains supportive of the Oak Ridge “Clinch Reactor Site” as the first SMR location in the Tennessee Valley. ATVG is also prepared to help communities in the Valley consider SMR locations when appropriate. SMRs are the centerpiece of the next generation of nuclear reactors and will be a source of safe, reliable, and affordable green energy.