Application submitted to US NRC for construction of Carbon Free Power Project

15 August 2023

CFPP LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), has applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Limited Work Authorisation (LWA), requesting approval to start early construction activities for the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) before receiving a Combined Licence (COL).

CFPP participants in March agreed to continue development and deployment of a small modular reactor (SMR) project for UAMPS despite rising costs. UAMPS, a consortium of cities in Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada, launched the CFPP in 2015 as part of its long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions and replace ageing coal-fired plants with a carbon-free fuel, and small-to-full-sized, flexible power generating source. UAMPS comprises 48 public power utilities with service areas in eight western states. CFPP Partners include NuScale Power (developer of the nuclear power modules), Fluor Corporation (construction and licensing contractor), and the US Department of Energy (DOE).

In 2020 DOE approved $1.35bn over 10 years for the project, subject to congressional appropriations. CFPP LLC is a not-for-profit organisation, which was formed as a limited liability company in September 2020. In 2021, UAMPS and NuScale agreed to help manage and de-risk the development of the CFPP. UAMPS, Fluor Corporation and NuScale (as a subcontractor to Fluor) agreed to develop cost estimates and initial project planning work for the licensing, manufacturing, and construction of the CFPP.

In March, the CFPP Project Management Committee approved a plan to support construction of a NuScale demonstration SMR at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The planned the six-reactor, 462 MWe CFPP is expected to begin operation in 2030.

When approved, the LWA will pave the way for the initiation of early-scope construction which is expected to start mid-2025. CFPP LLC applied for the LWA as the first part of the CFPP Combined License application (COLA). This is the first instance under the current LWA regulations where a standalone LWA application was submitted in advance of the remainder of the COLA. The second part of the CFPP COLA remains on schedule to be submitted to NRC in January 2024.

"The submittal of the LWA application is an imperative step in maintaining the project's schedule for an end-of-year 2029 commercial operation date,” said CFPP LLC President Mason Baker. “Commencing with construction activities allows for progress to continue on the CFPP site prior to the full authorisation granted in the COL.”

CFPP COLA work began in August 2021, when CFPP LLC enlisted the expertise of Fluor Corporation and a dedicated team from NuScale to prepare a COLA for submission to the NRC. The COLA will seek a licence to construct and operate a NPP comprising six SMRs and associated common facilities, collectively known as the Carbon Free Power Project.

The CFPP will utilise NuScale Power’s VOYGR-6 SMR power plant design. NuScale’s Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which has been submitted to NRC, is based on a VOYGR power plant design featuring six 77 MWe NuScale Power Modules. The NRC has said it expects to complete its review of the application and grant the SDA by the end of July 2025. The CFPP is proposed to be sited within the southwest region of the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in southeast Idaho. The site covers an area of approximately 890 square miles and is situated near Idaho Falls.

In addition to seeking NRC authorisation, CFPP LLC is also coordinating with DOE for the needed approvals as part of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which will be completed before starting these early construction activities.

Image (L-R): Brian Smith, NRC; Karin Feldman, NuScale Power; Mason Baker, Robert Taylor, NRC; and Carrie Fosaaen NuScale Power mark the submission of the LWA (courtesy of CFPP LLC)

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