Utilities join Westinghouse SMR alliance

It appears there is some momentum building behind the Westinghouse SMR effort. I don’t know what financial commitment the new partners are making. What we know is they are working together to win the DOE $450 million funding contribution – much of which will be consumed by first of kind licensing costs.

Three major US nuclear utilities have joined an alliance formed by Westinghouse and Ameren to support the licensing and deployment of Westinghouse small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Plant based on Westinghouse SMR
How a plant based on Westinghouse’s SMR technology could look (Image: Westinghouse)

Exelon, Dominion Virginia and FirstEnergy are among a dozen power utilities and electricity suppliers to sign up to the NexStart SMR Alliance – a group formed by Westinghouse and Missouri Electric Alliance to help secure investment funds from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

Also signing up to the NexStart Alliance are Tampa Electric Company; Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation; and Savannah River National Laboratory. The Missouri Electric Alliance is led by Ameren Missouri and its members include Missouri Public Utility Alliance; Associated Electric Cooperative; Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; Empire District Electric Company; and Kansas City Power and Light Company.

Members of the NexStart SMR Alliance have signed a memorandum of understanding that recognizes “the importance of advancing nuclear energy in helping secure clean, safe and reliable electricity in the future by deploying the Westinghouse SMR.”

Discussions are said to be underway with other utilities and enterprises considering membership to NexStart in order to support the potential deployment of a Westinghouse SMR at Ameren’s existing Callaway nuclear power plant site in Missouri.

The DoE announced in March 2012 that a total of $450 million would be available to support first-of-a-kind engineering, design certification and licensing for up to two SMR designs over five years. The DoE is seeking proposals for SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the NRC and to be in commercial operation by 2022. The total funding, through cost sharing agreements with private industry, is expected to provide a total investment of about $900 million.