Brown applauds decision to locate new SMR simulator in Tri-Cities

Kennewick lawmaker calls on House to support growing clean-energy technology

Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, today applauded NuScale Power’s announcement that it has commissioned a small modular reactor control-room simulator to be located in its Richland office.

“Having visited the NuScale control-room simulator in Corvallis, Oregon, I am thrilled to welcome a similar facility here in the Tri-Cities,” said Brown, the state Legislature’s leading advocate for SMR technology and nuclear power.

“Promoting the growth of the small modular reactor industry in Washington could mean thousands of good-paying, family wage jobs in construction, manufacturing and other related high-tech fields. Having this simulator in our state will also help me make the case for SMR technology with the public, members of the media and other lawmakers.”

Brown is the sponsor of several measures aimed at making Washington more attractive to SMR manufacturers, including Senate Bill 5475, which would provide a business-and-occupation tax incentive for the production of small nuclear reactors.

The newly announced Richland-based simulator will serve as a virtual nuclear-power plant control room with work stations to simulate the operation of a SMR module, turbine generator and support systems used to generate electricity. It will be used to develop plant-operating procedures and training material as well as a training platform for future nuclear-plant operators.

Brown, whose 8th Legislative District includes the Columbia Generating Station, the Pacific Northwest’s only commercial nuclear-energy facility, has been instrumental in promoting nuclear energy in the Legislature. Her accomplishments include securing a $500,000 state Department of Commerce grant, awarded to the Tri-City Development Council in 2013, which funded a site analysis of Hanford as a possible location for a new federal SMR.

The study found that siting an SMR at the Washington Nuclear Power Plant Unit No. 1 site at Hanford would benefit from existing infrastructure and licensing documentation, including a previously-issued Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction license. The study also highlighted that a “SMR would offer a carbon-free base load alternative to offset generation fluctuations associated with wind energy and future solar plants.” The region’s nuclear-trained workforce would also be a plus.

“Small modular reactors are a part of the growing clean-energy technology field,” said Brown. “It is important that we look for ways to streamline the siting and licensing process so that Washington can be a leader in this field and an attractive location for those in development, production and commercialization of SMR technology.”

Brown believes Washington risks falling behind in the competition to be a leader in the emerging industry if it is not pro-active.

“If we don’t act now, other states and countries are poised to take the lead in SMR development, and Washington will lose out on all of those good-paying jobs,” she said.

SB 5475 passed the Senate 27-22 on March 7, but the House of Representatives failed to act on the measure during the 2017 regular session. The bill was reintroduced April 24, when lawmakers began a special session.