In 2007, then-Rep. Aaron Tilton announced plans to build two nuclear reactors on the Green River in southern Utah. His dream was to construct the first nuclear power plant in the state and produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity.
A Bad Idea
At first, most observers didn’t take Tilton’s plan seriously. The Springville Republican had zero nuclear power experience. Several years later, however, Tilton’s plan gained some momentum. His company, Blue Castle Holdings secured land on which to build the plant about four miles northwest of the town of Green River. And, most importantly, they received state approval in 2013 to use 50,000 acre feet of water from the Green River to cool its reactors.
At every step of the way – from regulatory bodies to the courts – HEAL Utah has been at the forefront of efforts to challenge the Green River proposal. Our supporters are convinced that nuclear power is a terrible choice for the state’s energy future:
It Uses Too Much Water.
The Green River reactors would consume as much water as residents of a city of 200,000. And Utah is the second driest state in the nation with a population slated to double in the next 40 years. Do we really want to allocate this precious water to nuclear power for at least a half-century, instead of to homes, businesses and farms?
Nuclear remains one of the most expensive sources of electricity, with independent analysts estimating a per kilowatt-hour cost of at least 13 to 18 cents, much more than what Utah (7 cents) or the nation (10 cents) pays today.
It Poses Risks.
Utah would need to grapple with the spent fuel rods that reactors produce, high-level nuclear waste stored on-site which remains dangerous for centuries. And then there is the possibility, even if remote, of a Fukushima-style accident.
There are Better Alternatives.
We believe that Utah can build a low-carbon, 21st Century energy system by combining wind, solar, and geothermal resources with proven storage technologies. Our eUtah study proved that a renewable-centered system can also be affordable and reliable – and use much less water than nuclear power and burning fossil fuels – a critical issue in dry Utah.
Aaron Tilton’s bad idea has lost key momentum in recent years, as investors remain wary and utilities in the West continue to shun new nuclear power. Rocky Mountain Power spokespeople periodically make clear that new nuclear is not in their plans. Blue Castle has been left with not just no money to permit their project — but no hopes of selling the expensive source of power they can’t afford to build.
Nonetheless, as long as the Blue Castle proposal continues to limp along, HEAL Utah is determined to make clear to officials that it’s time to turn our back on costly and dangerous power sources like nuclear power and instead embrace a 21st Century energy economy.