Tennessee governor launches nuclear advisory council

May 19, 2023, 1:03PMNuclear News


In his latest effort to promote the growth of nuclear energy in his state, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order on Tuesday to establish the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council.

“Tennessee is ready-made to lead America’s energy independence and drive continued economic growth with safe, clean, and reliable nuclear energy for the future,” Lee said at a news conference held at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus to publicize the document. “Today, I’m signing an executive order that will continue our work to make Tennessee the number-one state for nuclear energy companies to invest and thrive, bringing greater opportunity and quality jobs for Tennesseans.”

Seeking counsel: Executive Order 101 calls for a 15-member advisory council, including members of the governor’s administration, the Tennessee General Assembly, the state’s congressional delegation, and key nuclear industry stakeholders.

By October 31, 2024, the council is to deliver the following actions to advance the Volunteer State’s ability to lead the nation in nuclear energy:

  • Legislative, policy, and budgetary changes to address regulatory, workforce, or educational barriers that exist to the creation and expansion of nuclear energy facilities in Tennessee.
  • Funding opportunities for state government, local governments, and the private sector.
  • Storage and waste practices that continue the state’s long history of conserving Tennessee’s natural resources.
  • Federal actions that Tennessee should pursue with federal partners and agencies.

In case you missed it: The Tennessee Valley Authority announced in February 2022 that it would prepare a construction permit application for a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactor at the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn. Clinch River currently holds the only Nuclear Regulatory Commission early-site permit for SMRs.

And in March of this year, GEH announced that it would develop a standard design for the BWRX-300 with TVA, Canada’s Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Poland’s Synthos Green Energy (SGE). Following the announcement, representatives of the four companies signed a technical collaboration agreement to invest in the development of the BWRX-300 standard design and detailed design for key components, including the reactor pressure vessel and reactor internals. According to a March 23 TVA release, “GEH is committed to standard design development and anticipates a total investment of around $400 million associated with the development.” That cost is to be met in part by contributions from TVA, OPG, and SGE. The power producers will additionally form a Design Center Working Group intended to ensure the standard design will be deployable—and licensable—in multiple jurisdictions.

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