Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why First Energy is Interested in SMRs

Greg Halnon
The following guest post was submitted by Greg Halnon, Director of Regulatory Affairs at First Energy.

The SMR market is just emerging. We see it as an essential technology for future baseload generation. Greenhouse gas reduction goals cannot be met with renewables alone. In order to achieve the goals, as well as maintain the integrity of the reliable grid we so enjoy in our country, the nuclear option is paramount. Over the next decade, the country needs to internalize the need for SMRs through regulation reform targeted at a streamlined operation that provides for and compliments the enhanced safety the SMR technology offers.

Much of the present-day thinking of potential safety issues needs a paradigm shift given that many of the theoretical accidents are simply not credible for SMRs. Additionally, applying the lessons from recent and historical events through ground-up design features assures a safe, reliable and diverse energy option. Utilities should prepare their staff’s intellectual capital, engage in the development of designs and engage in regulatory reform. The U.S. government needs to lead in this reform and share the economic risks of getting the first wave of SMRs in operation. There will be a time in the next decade that we will wish we did.

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