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Legislature looks at small modular nuclear reactors as a potential solution to Nebraska's energy needs

Posted at 6:46 PM, Oct 27, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — Despite being one of only 28 states where they are licensed to operate, there hasn’t been much new in the way of nuclear power in Nebraska.

The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station was closed in 2016 leaving only the Cooper Nuclear Station operating in the state but in 2023 lawmakers are re-examining where nuclear can fit into Nebraska’s energy picture.

“I think we have to start this process so that when the time comes and states have the opportunity to have this SMR ability that we have done the right things to help power public power,” said Senator Tom Brewer of District 43.

The SMR that Brewer is referring to are Small Modular Reactors.

SMR’s are newer advanced reactors that produce less power than traditional reactors but offer far more flexibility in where they are placed and how they are used.

Because of their smaller footprint SMR’s could be utilized in more rural areas of the state and offer more opportunities as our power generation needs grow.

“Talk to any utility across the country with the transition that’s going on. Electric vehicles are an example, the large products that are coming to Nebraska like the MetalArc project that was announced in Gothenburg. The large data centers coming to Nebraska we have grown into our generation,” said Kent.

Increasing nuclear power generation could also help the state become less reliant on traditional fossil fuels, providing more energy security while also contributing to carbon neutral and carbon zero goals set by Nebraska’s many public power utilities.

Power will be essential to Nebraska’s success in the future and Kent believes that Nuclear will have to be a part of that picture for the state to meet its needs.

“As we think about how we ensure a reliable and robust economy, and have our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren enjoy the quality of life we have today….enjoy the environment we have today and meet all the needs of the future…nuclear power has to be part of the solution,” said Kent.

Lawmakers will consider Friday’s testimony when crafting bills that could be introduced in the upcoming session in January.

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