Montana legislative panel hears from SMR backers and bashers

June 3, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Montana is among the states that have already expressed interest in small modular reactor technology as a possible means of decarbonizing their energy sectors.

Just last year, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law H.B. 273, transferring the power to authorize construction of nuclear power facilities in the state from the public (via referendum) to the legislature.

The Colstrip coal-powered plant in Montana. (Photo: MontanaPBS)

In addition, lawmakers approved a resolution, SJ3, tasking Montana’s joint Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee with studying the feasibility of replacing coal-fired units at Montana’s Colstrip power plant with SMRs. (Two of Colstrip’s four coal boilers were permanently closed in January 2020, and most energy-sector observers expect the remaining two units to be retired within the next few years.)

In its latest meeting on SJ3 last month, the joint committee heard both from SMR supporters and detractors—including, in favor of the technology, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Matt Crozat, and opposed to it, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s David Schlissel. For more details on the meeting, see this May 26 piece from Helena, Mont.’s Independent Record.

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