Wyoming is Getting a Nuclear Power Plant. Could it Work for Colstrip?
Wyoming is getting the state's first nuclear power plant.
This story might not have showed up in your newsfeed today (6/3), but it will likely generate some chatter among those concerned about energy projects in the region. ICYMI, one of Bill Gates' companies (TerraPower), is taking the lead on the construction of a multi-billion dollar nuclear power plant in the Cowboy State. According to the Associated Press, the site (undetermined) will be built on one of four, soon-to-be-retired, coal power plants.
Wyoming cranks out power... and carbon emissions.
According to Energy.gov, Wyoming contributes 1% of the nation's energy, primarily from 15 coal-fired power plants. Other sources include 10 petroleum or natural gas power plants, 16 hydroelectric plants and, 20 "other renewable" power plants, like wind or solar. While the state is actively advancing its long-term geological CO2 storage program, it still leads the nation in carbon emissions, per capita. A U.S. Energy Industry Administration report notes that Wyoming is the 3rd largest energy-producing state in the US (2016 data).
Wyoming's Governor supports the new, high-tech nuclear plant.
In a press release, Wyoming's Republican Governor Mark Gordon expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating,
I am thrilled to see Wyoming selected for this demonstration pilot project, as our great state is the perfect place for this type of innovative utility facility and our coal-experienced workforce is looking forward to the jobs this project will provide.
The release added,
Governor Gordon committed in early 2021 to lead the state in becoming carbon net negative while continuing to use fossil fuels through the advancement and utilization of next-generation technologies that can provide baseload power to the grid, including nuclear and carbon capture solutions.
Could a similar project work for Colstrip?
The debate around coal is deeply passionate for many Montana and Wyoming residents. The same could be said for nuclear power. Advocates say the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially with advances in nuclear technology. Opponents point to the high cost of construction, waste disposal, and disasters like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island, which are hard to forget.
OPINION: I'm far from knowledgeable regarding nuclear power, but if something like the project in Wyoming could successfully be duplicated in Colstrip, let's do it. Anything that will help the plant remain a viable, cleaner energy source in the future seems like a good idea.