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NM Rep. Brown pushes for N.M. reactor

In addition to housing one of the nation’s only nuclear waste repositories, New Mexico may eventually be on the cutting edge of nuclear energy technology.

State Rep. Cathrynn Brown spoke at the International Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Reactor Summit in Atlanta in April, promoting the idea of making New Mexico one of the first homes of small modular reactors.

Small modular reactors, essentially miniature nuclear power plants, are a technology currently being tested by NuScale Power in Oregon and other areas around the country and globe.

Idaho will be the first state to receive one, but Brown hopes New Mexico won’t be far behind.

“My thought is that maybe the first ones in the country will serve military installations,” Brown said.

According to a May 31 article in “Power” magazine the Utah Associated Municipal Power and the Department of Energy entered into a use agreement that allows UAMPS to explore potential locations for plant development at the Idaho National Laboratory site.

The state representative said New Mexico’s rural nature makes it the perfect place for an SMR, though she said one of the benefits of reactors is that they take up much less space than a full scale one, around 30 acres.

“They are ideal for smaller markets where you can’t really justify building a full scale nuclear facility,” she said.

Another advantage Brown touted is the cost. While a full scale reactor costs around $10 billion, an SMR is $1 billion.

The components of SMRs are manufactured in factories, sent to the site and assembled there.

Brown said she also hopes to see some of that manufacturing done in New Mexico, as well.

“Ultimately, I would like to see some of the manufacturing of the components in New Mexico,” she said. “These are good, high paying jobs.”

Brown also touted one of the key arguments for all nuclear energy.

“The number one selling feature is that they create no greenhouse gas emissions,” she said, adding that solar and wind power technologies just can’t provide enough energy for our society.

In 2014, Brown presented a memorial in the New Mexico Legislature asking the state to perform research on the feasibility and economic benefits of bringing one to the state.

Maddy Hayden can be reached at 575-628-5512.

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©2016 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

Visit the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.) at www.currentargus.com

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