Electricity Generation

What is the UAMPS CFPP?

UAMPS: The Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (http://www.uamps.com/) is a project-based organization.  It presently operates 16 separate projects that provide a variety of power supply, transmission, and other services to its Members.  The UAMPS membership represents 45 entitiesfrom Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming. Idaho Falls Power is a member of UAMPS.  The members decide whether or not to participate in UAMPS' projects and are not obligated to participate in any particular project.  In general, UAMPS and its members enter into a contract that specifies the services or productthat UAMPS will provide for a specificproject, the cost forparticipating members,  and other matters relating to the project.  Idaho Falls Power may choose to purchase some of the power produced by the CFPP.

Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP): UAMPS decided to develop a Carbon Free Power Project, anchored by small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to help mitigate the retirement of aging coal plants and to produce clean, emissions-free baseload electricity for the growing energy needs of members and customers. It also helps UAMPS be responsive to EPA’s Clean Power Plan Rule, which requires the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal and gas fired power plants, while recognizing that development of new nuclear generation can play a vital role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the electric industry. The U.S. has announced a goal of reducing economy wide carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, while starting to make meaningful reductions in 2020.  

The plan for the CFPP is that is it will be designed to be capable of holding 12 modules for a total generating capacity rated at about 600 MWe.  So, the UAMPS site will generate between 50 and 600 MWe.  As they are expected to operate ~90% of the time, they will generate 50-570 MWe-yr per year.  For comparison, the four wind farms east of Idaho Falls produce about 110 MWe-yr.  The four Idaho Falls Power dams on the Snake River produce 25-MWe-yr.  UAMPS has not yet projected the cost of electricity from the plant.  

UAMPs partnership - What is the legal status of UAMPS in Idaho?

UAMPS is an energy services entity based in Utah.  It was formed in 1980 under Utah law and has the right to develop, own, and operate facilities that directly and indirectly provide electrical energy to its members.  UAMPS operates in Idaho much like any other business or entity that develops, owns, and/or operates an energy production facility in the State of Idaho.  

Who will own the reactor?

The reactor will be developed and owned by UAMPS.  

UAMPS indicates that changes, if any, to the local and regional electrical grid are unknown at this time.  When a site is chosen and finalized, UAMPS will initiate the following process with the transmission provider.  It is anticipated that this process may take up to a year before it is complete and UAMPS would enter into an interconnection agreement.

The Interconnection of the CFPP to the electrical transmission system will be through the Large Generator Interconnection Process (LGIP) that is part of the PacifiCorp Open Access Tariff (OATT).  The LGIP consists of interconnection and transmission studies that evaluate the effect of the generator on the existing transmission system and identify the interconnection facilities and transmission facilities that are necessary for the reliable operation of the generator and transmission system.  After the LGIP is complete, a Large Generator Interconnection Agreement will be entered into for the construction of the interconnection facilities and any transmission system upgrades that are necessary.  The LGIP and LGIA will also identify the allocation of the costs of the interconnection facilities and transmission facilities into two categories, Direct Assigned and Network Upgrade.  For Direct Assigned facilities, UAMPS will be responsible for 100% of the costs.  For Network Upgrades, the costs will be allocated to the transmission revenue requirement of PacifiCorp, although UAMPS may have to provide upfront funding of the upgrades.

What changes to the local and regional electrical grid will be required and when?

Priority for purchase of this carbon-free power will be given to UAMPS members who participated in the CFPP.  Any excess power will be sold to provide the greatest benefit to UAMPS members.  This may include power purchase agreements with non-member entities.

Where will the electricity be sold?

If UAMPS is successful in establishing Power Purchase Agreements for delivery of electricity from the SMR, then participating UAMPS members will be less impacted by commodity prices for electricity from natural gas.  However, competing natural gas prices may have an impact on the ability of UAMPS to establish satisfactory power contracts in the first place.

In the absence of power contracts or one or more direct and indirect market fixes (as suggested below by the Nuclear Economics Consulting Group), market forces may have a major impact on implementing the CFPP.

[NOTE:  The following comments are taken from report #14 entitled “Market Failure and Nuclear Power,” published by the Nuclear Economics Consulting Group (NECG), which can be found at http://nuclear-economics.com/14-market-failure/]. 

“U.S. nuclear power plants provide significant public benefits, but get no compensation for these public benefits. The owners of nuclear power plants make decisions based on the market value of commodity electricity and capacity.”

“Market failure, an economic concept, is when the market does not support activities that provide net public benefits. This can happen when firms decline to undertake activities or investments that result in private losses, even though these activities would provide net public benefits.”

What if the market does not put sufficient value on power from CFPP

Examples of other carbon-free power sources in Idaho are an estimated 1.8 MWe of solar PV (there were no commercial solar PV plants in Idaho as of 2015), the Raft River Geothermal Project that generates 13 MWe , four hydro electric generators operated by Idaho Falls Powerthat generate about 47 MW, and four wind farms east of Idaho Falls that have a combined capacity of about 360 MW and occupy about 85,000 acres.  In comparison, two fossil fuel generating plants owned and operated by UAMPS in Utah generate 140 MWe with natural gas and 446 MWe with coal.   Only geothermal, hydro, fossil fuel and nuclear generators can provide reliable baseload power 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

How does the size of this unit/unit(s) compare to existing Idaho generating facilities?

NuScale is confident that SMRs can be integrated with renewable energy from wind and solar, providing stability and constancy to the electrical grid even as wind and solar fluctuate depending on weather an time of day. In a scientific paper titled "Can Nuclear Power and Renewables be Friends?" UAMPS and their partners concluded:

" The increasing penetration of renewables, especially wind generation, have dramatically changed the economics and realities of grid management in ways that now encourage some level of load-following capabilities for historically baseload plants, including nuclear. The NuScale small modular reactor design currently under development in the United States is well suited for integration with renewables because of several design features related to the nuclear steam supply system, the power conversion system, and the overall plant architecture. The multi-module nature of a NuScale plant allows the plant output to be varied in three ways spanning a wide range of different time frames: (1) taking one or more modules offline for extended periods of sustained wind output, (2) adjusting reactor power for one or more modules for intermediate periods to compensate for hourly changes in wind generation, or (3) bypassing the steam turbine for rapid responses to wind generation variations. Results are presented from a recent analysis of nuclear-wind integration that utilized historical wind generation data from the Horse Butte wind farm in Idaho. Also discussed is the experience of Energy Northwest in their implementation of limited load-shaping at the Columbia Generating Station."

Will the reactor(s) affect stability of the electric grid?


Yes.  The Horse Butte Wind Project is one of four wind farms east of Idaho Falls. The facility is located approximately 16 miles east of Idaho Falls and began commercial operation Aug. 15, 2012. UAMPS undertook the development, acquisition and construction of the 57.6 MW wind farm comprised of 32 1.8-MW wind turbines plus related facilities and equipment. Upon commercial operation, UAMPS sold the facility to a private investor, which entered into a Power Purchase Agreement for the entire output of the farm. 

Are there other examples of other UAMPS projects in Idaho?