TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates announced in November that they selected Kemmerer, Wyoming as their preferred nuclear power plant location. Photo: Greg Rubenstein

WYOMING — Yesterday Nov. 16, TerraPower announced Kemmerer, Wyoming as the preferred site for the Natrium™ reactor demonstration project.

According to the press release, the Natrium™ reactor demonstration project is a TerraPower and GE-Hitachi technology, and is one of two competitively-selected advanced reactor demonstration projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The project aims to bring a fully functioning nuclear power plant to a retiring coal site, the first of its kind in Wyoming. TerraPower was founded by Bill Gates.

The company selected the Kemmerer location, near the Naughton Power Plant, following an extensive evaluation process and meetings with community members and leaders. In June Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced that TerraPower was exploring locations in Wyoming, says the press release.

“People across Wyoming welcomed us into their communities over the past several months, and we are excited to work with PacifiCorp to build the first Natrium plant in Kemmerer,” said Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower. “Our innovative technology will help ensure the continued production of reliable electricity while also transitioning our energy system and creating new, good-paying jobs in Wyoming.”

The demonstration project team evaluated a variety of factors when selecting the site of the Naughton Power Plant, where the remaining two coal units are scheduled to retire in 2025. Factors included community support, the physical characteristics of the site, the ability of the site to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), access to existing infrastructure, and the needs of the grid.

“On behalf of Kemmerer and surrounding communities, we are pleased and excited to host the Natrium demonstration project. This is great for Kemmerer and great for Wyoming,” said Bill Thek, the mayor of Kemmerer.

TerraPower anticipates submitting the demonstration plant’s construction permit application to the NRC in mid-2023. The plant is expected to be operational in the next seven years.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security.

Kemmerer, Wyoming was named for Mahlon S. Kemmerer in the 1880s. He was the primary investor financing early coal exploration in the area and is also the great grandfather of Jay Kemmerer, Connie Kemmerer and Betty Gray, the owners of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Jay Kemmerer, along with his sisters Connie Kemmerer and Betty Gray, purchased the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in 1992 from Paul McCollister

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Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.