Roane reactor project gets funding

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By Damon Lawrence

TVA’s plan to build a small modular reactor at its old breeder reactor site in Roane County got a boost from the federal government last week.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced an award to support a new project to design, license and help commercialize small modular reactors.
“The project supported by the award will be led by Babcock & Wilcox in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel,” DOE said in a press release.
DOE said it will invest up to half of the total project cost through a five-year cost-share agreement. The investment, according to DOE, will help B&W obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing.
“We expect over the next decade that the B&W mPower reactor program will create a significant number of new jobs at B&W facilities and supplier facilities in the U.S,” Babcock & Wilcox Government Relations Manager Leslie J. Sack said in an email to county and state officials. “This award promotes clean energy and energy security, and also signifies the importance of continued and meaningful funding for the cost-share program.”
In June of 2011 Babcock & Wilcox Co. announced that Generation mPower LLC had signed a letter of intent with TVA to construct up to six small modular reactors at the Roane County site. Generation mPower is a subsidiary of Babcox & Wilcox Nuclear Energy Inc.
During a tour of the site in 2011, TVA officials said the agency was looking at small modular reactors as a way to help diversify its energy portfolio.
According to DOE, small modular reactors are one-third the size of current nuclear power plants and are expected to offer safety, construction and economic benefits.
“The Obama Administration continues to believe that low-carbon nuclear energy has an important role to play in America’s energy future,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said. “Restarting the nation’s nuclear industry and advancing small modular reactor technologies will help create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses, and ensure we continue to take an all-of-the-above approach to American energy production.”
Roane County Executive Ron Woody said jobs generated because of the project should be high-paying.
“It’s going to be a big economic boon for the area,” he said.