Guest opinion from PST SMR Committee chairman published in the Post Register (Oct. 12, 2016)

Small Modular Reactor Project Is Good for Idaho

Partnership for Science and Technology independently assessed the proposed UAMPS project

in Eastern Idaho

Steve Laflin is a member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Science & Technology, and is the lead of the SMR review committee. He is also president and CEO of International Isotopes, Inc.


The Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) proposed Carbon-Free Power Project looks like a good deal for Eastern Idaho. The proposed project is on the correct path to providing a safe and environmentally responsible power plant that will offer economic benefit and bolster the reliability of our regional energy grid.

Says who? The Partnership for Science and Technology (PST) — a non-profit organization that works to independently examine and promote responsible energy technologies and environmental stewardship to benefit Idaho and the region. The PST recently completed an initial review of the planned NuScale design for the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) proposed by UAMPS. The CFPP would be located within the boundaries of the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory Site, but will be licensed and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Based upon our initial review, the PST supports UAMPS moving forward with this project.

The CFPP aims to demonstrate the viability of developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as a part of a long-range energy portfolio to mitigate the loss of aging coal plants, anticipated to begin retiring in 2025. The carbon free electricity produced by this project will complement variable generation from local wind and solar projects and regional hydro-electric generation, including that of Idaho Falls Power.

PST independently evaluated much of the currently available information on reactor operations, electricity generation, environmental impacts, safety, security and socio-political issues. The information gathered from this review has been posted on the PST website (www.P-S-T.org) in the form of responses to frequently asked questions. 

PST’s position is that the CFPP has all the elements of a safe and environmentally responsible project. From the information available to date, the project offers promise for benefiting Idaho’s economy and boosting the reliability of the entire region’s energy grid. Since this is a nuclear project, there are certain to be groups opposing the CFPP. Groups that reject nuclear power without offering viable alternates to replace baseload coal plants are unrealistic. While the PST respects all organizations looking out for the welfare of the community and the environment, we must all be diligent in our evaluation and accurate in our assessment of the technology’s risks and benefits. Our future energy mix and our need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions should not be taken lightly. These types of projects must be evaluated in a responsible manner with the ultimate objective of finding solutions to our long term energy needs.

The PST encourages everyone to objectively evaluate the CFPP project, starting with the extensive information complied on the PST website, and decide for yourself the safety and value of this important project.

Posted on November 11, 2016 .