Heber Light And Power Board Visits Nuclear Power Company: Considers Energy Contract

Jul 18, 2018

Credit Wasatch County with View of Mt. Timpanogas

The Heber Light and Power is considering entering into an energy contract with a small Nuclear Power plant, not yet built, in Corvallis, Oregon.  Heber Light and Power is an Interlocal, community owned power company providing energy to the Heber Valley. With projected downscaling and decommissioning of coal plants, the community is looking for replacement energy sources. They’re considering a power contract with the Nuclear Power Company, NuScale. Carolyn Murray has this update.

Heber City Mayor, Kelleen Potter, is the Chair of the Heber Light and Power Board.  The board also includes representation from the mayors of Midway and Charleston along with elected County Officials.  Members of the board travelled to Oregon last week to learn about investing in the Small Nuclear Power Company, NuScale.   

Potter says previous HLP boards have already invested $100,000 in the company and now they have to decide if they will take the next step that involves signing a long term contract for future power.

“We’re looking at 10 megawatts and if we commit to that then we would get that amount of power from this project for 40 years. They would have these small reactors.  They’re smarter…they’d have some built in safety things..they’re mostly underground in big water tanks.  It’s cleaner.”

The costs would not exceed 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour and the cap on the pricing would be guaranteed under the contract. Potter says coal power is cheap right now but energy experts anticipate it getting progressively more expensive while it fades out of the energy supply marketplace.

“This project would start being constructed in 2023. Expect it to be operational in 2026 so we are still a little ways out there. No one knows for sure on the coal plants but that’s the direction it’s going so everyone’s looking at alternatives.”

Potter says she was impressed with the safety systems in place. She says it’s an automated, passive system that does not risk the possibility of human error.   

“If they need to shut down the plant, it doesn’t require an operator action. They have provisions for earthquakes and meteors - so many different variables that they’ve anticipated.”

The Heber Light and Power Board will make a decision by June of 2019.

“Our previous boards have already invested $100,000.  We are at the next step where we’re going to have to decide if we’re going to sign a power sales contract or not.  That’s why they took the board up there  so we could see the technology, the research that’s going on and the testing and ask a lot of questions.”

The efforts to establish a Citizens Advisory Board was voted down by the Heber Light and Power board in a 3 to 2 vote. Potter and board member, Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson say they want the advisory board to help with this and other big power decisions that affect the Heber Valley.

“This is a really difficult decision and project and we felt like we could bring some more people to the table, get some different ideas, research different avenues. Mayor Johnson has worked really hard at reaching out to different organizations and we’ve tried to come up with an alternative to having these massive power lines cut through our valley.  It seems like a Citizens Advisory Board would be another way to task other people to do some research and help bring back community feedback but the rest of the board is not on the same page as we are with that.”

The board meets next on August 22nd at 3 pm in the Business Office at: 31 S 100 W, Heber City.