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News / Business / Clark County Business

Energy Northwest signs deal for nuclear project in Central Washington

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 20, 2023, 5:56am

Energy provider Energy Northwest and small modular nuclear reactor developer X-Energy announced Wednesday that they signed a joint development agreement to create up to a dozen reactors in Central Washington.

Each small modular reactor can generate up to 90 megawatts of carbon-free electricity or 200 megawatts of high-temperature steam. According to the agreement, the small modular reactor project will be developed adjacent to the Columbia Generating Station in Richland, the region’s only commercial nuclear energy facility. Energy Northwest expects to bring its first module online by 2030.

In June, Clark Public Utilities agreed to invest $200,000 in Energy Northwest’s feasibility study, an assessment determining whether the project will be successful. The utility’s commissioners have not had further public discussions regarding the small modular reactor project since announcing its participation in the study.

Clark Public Utilities receives energy from a variety of sources, including hydropower, natural gas and nuclear — the latter of which comes from the Columbia Generating Station.

Proponents of nuclear power contend that it’s a necessary source to meet Washington’s Clean Energy Act, a commitment to phase out all the state’s fossil fuel resources by 2045. Those against introducing more nuclear facilities in the state cite issues with nuclear waste disposal and potential safety issues, proposing instead that other renewable resources be pursued.

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Columbian staff writer