November 17, 2021 |
Kemmerer, Wyoming is about to boom. The coal town of 2,600 in Lincoln County is entering the nuclear age.
The Bill Gates-funded company TerraPower announced yesterday that Kemmerer will be the site of its Natrium reactor nuclear power demonstration plant. In a statement, the company said it selected the site near the Naughton Power Plant following an evaluation process and meetings with community members and leaders. The 448-megawatt coal-fired Naughton power plant owned by PacifiCorp was marked for retirement in 2014. The company that owned the Kemmerer coal mine went bankrupt in 2019. State Representative Don Burkhart of Rawlins told Bigfoot 99 this summer that Kemmerer had been on the short list of potential sites since TeraPower first announced its plans to build somewhere in Wyoming in June.
Image courtesy TerraPower.
Closing the unit and mine means lost jobs. The nuclear plant will help. The company reports that 2,000 workers will be needed during construction. Once built, 250 employees will operate the facility. The skill sets needed are on a par or greater than energy workers at coal or gas-fired plants.
Rocky Mountain Power is touting the next-generation nuclear power plant as a companion-piece for its extensive inventory of wind turbines here in southern Wyoming. The power plant is responsive, and can be used to backfill electrons into the power grid when Mother Nature turns fickle and power from wind energy, or even solar, ebbs. That’s the plan according to TerraPower’s promotional video for their nuclear reactor.
The sodium cooled reactor can produce 350 megawatts of power, which can be boosted to 500 megawatts using the stored power. The demonstration plant is intended to validate the design, construction and operational ability of Natrium technology before it is scaled to a larger size. The plant could be up and running within seven years.