Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Iowa advances toward small modular reactors

Legislation creating a favorable rate environment has better prospects for passage this year

small reactorsEfforts by MidAmerican Energy to convince the Iowa state legislature to enact a bill that would create new opportunities to build a small modular reactor got a boost this week. House File 561, which passed last year in the House by a vote of 68-30, was reported out of a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7 and is now awaiting floor action.

If passed the legislation would allow MidAmerican to cover the costs of building a new nuclear reactor as they are incurred under a principle known as CWIP – construction while in progress – which could save up to 25% of the cost of the project. (See also this fact sheet on the legislation from MidAmerican)

MidAmerican is known to be looking at small modular reactors (SMRs) such as NuScale's 45 MW LWR and a 180 MW LWR being developed by B&W. SMRs offer market entry into the use of nuclear energy because they are not "bet the company" projects. Plus, the revenue from the first one provides the financial impetus to build the next one. Both of the reactor designs noted here are intended to be built in "modular" fashion.

On the Senate side in the Iowa legislature, Sen. Matt McCoy, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said the compromise legislation which it approved will require that MidAmerican have the financing in place before it begins construction. The bill provides that MidAmerican can recover licensing and construction costs. It puts in place a long list of consumer protections including annual spending caps and reviews by state regulatory agencies to mitigate "rate shock."

Read the full details exclusively at CoolHandNuke online now.


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1 comment:

Mr._Ed said...

Interesting visual metaphor accompanying your article on the SMR!