Terrapower chooses site for a new nuclear plant in Wyoming

A new nuclear power plant will be built to replace a Wyoming coal plant slated to retire in 2025. The new nuclear power plant will be constructed by TerraPower, a company that was founded by Bill Gates, in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

In contrast to most nuclear power plants, which use water to cool the plant, TerraPower will build a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The power plant will also include a storage system to boost peak power output to 500 MW when the electricity is needed most.

In its press release, Terra Power said that the construction will need 2,000 workers at its peak and is expected to be operational in the next seven years, after which it will support up to 250 jobs. 

Wyoming currently derives 80 percent of its electricity from coal, 12.3 percent from wind, and 3.4 percent from natural gas, with the remaining electricity coming from hydroelectric power and solar.

Replacing existing coal plants with new nuclear power plants is the best way to maintain the reliability of the electric grid and provide local jobs to the communities that have hosted power plants for decades.

Unlike wind turbines and solar panels that are all foam and no beer, nuclear power plants can provide electricity at all hours of the day regardless of weather conditions.

Instead of building thousands of megawatts of wind turbines and solar panels, utility companies like Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power should seek to build new nuclear power plants at the sites of their existing coal plants when they have reached the end of their useful lives.

In order to do this, though, Minnesota must repeal its unscientific ban on building new nuclear power plants. Doing so would allow electric companies to provide the most reliable, affordable, and environmentally friendly electricity possible while providing jobs in host communities for generations to come.