TerraPower, PacifiCorp evaluate potential to deploy up to five more Natrium reactors by 2035

Published on November 01, 2022 by Chris Galford

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After announcing last year that a nuclear Natrium demonstration plant would be brought to Wyoming to replace a PacifiCorp coal-fueled power plant, PacifiCorp and TerraPower added last week that they are studying, in advance of potentially deploying, the possibility of up to five more reactors by 2035.

All affiliated reactors would be located in PacifiCorp service territory and include integrated energy storage systems. Part of the study on the topic will be to determine if deployment of said reactors could reduce costs for PacifiCorp customers while finding ways to more broadly deploy the technology. Assessors will examine the possibilities of locating these reactors near current fossil-fueled generation sites to repurpose existing generation and transmission assets.

“This joint study is a significant step toward building the energy grid of the future for PacifiCorp’s customers, and a tangible example of the promise advanced nuclear brings to utilities serious about leading the nation’s energy transition,” Chris Levesque, TerraPower president and CEO, said. “We have been impressed and humbled by our work with the Kemmerer community and PacifiCorp. We look forward to evaluating new potential sites for Natrium plants that have the same energy expertise and capabilities as our demonstration site.”

TerraPower is a nuclear innovation company originally founded by Bill Gates and others as an incubator of new technological opportunities. While not the first time it has worked with the utility PacifiCorp – which provides electricity to 2 million customers in six states – deployment of reactors on this scale would represent a serious build-up of their cooperative relationship and a major change for the regional grid.

“The study will allow us to explore a carbon-free, dispatchable energy resource that could provide reliable power to our customers,” Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, said. “This is just a first step, as advanced nuclear power needs to be evaluated through our resource planning processes as well as receive regulatory approval. But it’s an exciting opportunity that advances us down the path to a net zero energy future.”