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Why #NEA17 Is at the Intersection of Nuclear’s Present and Future

Nuclear power is working for America. On May 22, hundreds of engineers, scientists, plant operators, entrepreneurs and students will gather in Scottsdale, at the annual Nuclear Energy Assembly, to talk about the multiple benefits that our technology provides, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In preparation, NEI's Matt Wald sat down recently with Lenka Kollar, the director of business strategy at NuScale Power, the company that submitted the first application for design certification of a small modular reactor. Lenka will be a panelist on the first day of the conference.


NuScale is one of several companies working on small modular reactors, reactors that can be built in a factory and then shipped by barge, rail or truck to sites around the country or the world. It’s not quite plug-and-play, but it’s closer to it than anything the nuclear industry has done so far. NuScale is further down the path to deployment than others; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently accepted for review the company’s application for design certification.

Lenka described the significance of NuScale’s approach. “Nuclear energy doesn’t have to be what people think it is,” she said. “It’s usually thought of as baseload power that is not flexible, and what we’re creating is something that is far more flexible and can meet the diverse energy needs here in the U.S. and abroad.’’

The Nuclear Energy Assembly, she said, will be an intersection of the existing and the new. That will be true on stage, in the Expo Hall and in the hallways.

Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona will address the meeting and talk about nuclear power as an element of Arizona’s infrastructure. Kristine Svinicki, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will speak, as will José Gutiérrez, the interim president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse, and Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist who specializes in high-tech energy firms. Rear Admiral Michael W. Hewitt (USN, ret.), will speak on nuclear power as a component of American global leadership.

Also speaking will be Rich Powell, the executive director of the ClearPath Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on energy and environment. In a recent video, Rich explained a topic that is slightly nerdy (his word) but very important: how electricity prices are set in the wholesale electric market in the “deregulated” states. Market policy is set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (At the moment, that body does not have a quorum. It’s one of several agencies important to nuclear power that needs re-populating.)

We look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale. If you can’t attend, follow the conversation on Twitter using #NEA17 and watch select panels live on our Facebook page.

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