White House appointee sees advanced nuclear option for Puerto Rico

July 16, 2020, 12:43PMNuclear News

All energy sources, including small modular reactors, are being considered to meet Puerto Rico’s energy needs, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Peter J. Brown said on July 15 during the second day of PR-Grid Virtual, a three-day online conference on Puerto Rico’s energy grid. Brown’s comments were quickly circulated on Twitter by people who are already working to make nuclear power a reality for Puerto Rico, including members of the Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP), a non-profit organization of Puerto Rican engineers in the nuclear industry.

Brown followed his spoken remarks with a tweet of his own on July 16: “The great people of Puerto Rico need energy options that best fit the island’s need for reliable and cost-competitive energy,” Brown wrote. “The Trump Administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is perfect for Puerto Rico.”

Background: Brown was appointed by President Donald Trump on February 7, 2020, to serve as the administration’s special representative for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery. He was invited to speak about economic aid for the island territory during PR-Grid Virtual. Even before Hurricane Maria hobbled Puerto Rico’s electricity grid in September 2017, Puerto Ricans have faced high energy costs and dependence on imported fuel.

Prospects and progress: The ANS Young Members Group and the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) presented a webinar on June 18 on the rapidly developing prospects for advanced nuclear in Puerto Rico. The webinar, "Clean Nuclear Energy for Industry: The Case for SMRs and Microreactors in Puerto Rico,” brought together voices of the NAP, the Department of Energy, and Puerto Rican industry.

During the June 18 webinar, Eddie Guerra of the NAP presented the results of a DOE-funded study on the feasibility of using smaller advanced reactors to meet the island’s power needs. That study recently concluded that Puerto Rico needs new baseload generation and that small modular reactors and microreactors would fit the territory’s planned grid. Next steps for the NAP include submitting a reactor siting proposal to the DOE.

Visit the Nuclear Alternative Project to download a copy of the feasibility study.

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