Xcel Energy, NuScale considering utility to operate future SMR nuclear plants

A developer of the nation’s first small modular reactor (SMR) design approved by federal regulators plans to partner with a utility to operate its next-gen nuclear power plants once built.

NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Xcel Energy to explore feasibility of Xcel serving as its SMR plant operator.

Oregon-based NuScale has received U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval on its design which involves a smaller footprint, capacity and anticipated cost than traditional high-capacity nuclear power plants. The company is working with various partners to build its planned Carbon Free Power Plant project at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Under the MOU, the two parties will examine the potential for Xcel Energy to become NuScale’s preferred partner to provide a suite of operational power plant services to NuScale customers based on Xcel Energy’s exceptional nuclear operational management systems. The MOU does not include a formal operating agreement, but it creates a framework for negotiating definitive agreements for Xcel Energy and NuScale to work together.

“As demand for carbon-free, reliable energy grows, NuScale continues to lead the pack as the most innovative, game-changing technology solution that can make a real difference for generations,” said NuScale Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins. “This agreement underscores NuScale’s ability to provide our customers not just with technology but also with the world-class operational support needed to ensure that countries, governments, utilities, and customers can provide the clean energy solution our communities need to thrive.”

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Xcel Energy, which has more than 50 years’ experience operating nuclear plants, is the owner and operator of two of the highest performing nuclear plants in the country, both located in Minnesota.

“As the first major energy provider to announce a 100% carbon-free vision, we understand the need for new technologies to meet the need for always on, carbon-free electricity,” said Pete Gardner, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer, Xcel Energy. “We’re excited to explore a potential partnership with NuScale that advances the next generation of nuclear energy, a technology that has the potential to provide the reliable, carbon-free electricity needed for a clean energy future.”

Earlier this summer, CFPP utility partner Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems announced a scaling down of the size of project from 12 to 6 77-MW SMR power modules. The parties reconfirmed their commitment to building the power plant and making operational by 2030.

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