NuScale nuclear reactor

A small modular nuclear reactor, designed by Oregon-based NuScale Power, could begin producing carbon-free electricity at the INL Site in 2026.

The small nuclear reactors NuScale Power plans to build at the U.S. Department of Energy desert site west of Idaho Falls have cleared another regulatory hurdle.

NuScale’s plans for the small modular reactors recently completed Phase 4 of their review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Oregon-based company said in a news release. This puts the design certification application on track for approval by September.

Phase 4 is the completion of the advanced safety evaluation report. NuScale officials said it is significant since it means the technical review is almost done. Phases 5 and 6 are left, which are a review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and preparation of the final safety evaluation report, respectively.

“The completion of Phase 4 of the NRC’s design review certification process is an unprecedented step forward for our company and for the advanced nuclear industry overall,” NuScale Chairman and CEO John Hopkins said in a statement. “We appreciate the tremendous effort the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dedicated to its thorough and rigorous review of our groundbreaking technology thus far. We are thrilled to be entering into the final stages of the NRC’s review process and are looking forward to delivering America’s first small modular nuclear reactor.”

NuScale is working with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build the 12 reactors, which are scheduled to come online in the mid-2020s and produce 720 megawatts of power, helping to power UAMPS members including Idaho Falls as well as providing Idaho National Laboratory with power for research. NuScale has also signed memorandums of understanding to explore building small modular reactors in Canada, Jordan, the Czech Republic and Romania, and is in talks with other customers.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.