With a briefing for hazardous materials teams from Carbon, Emery, Grand and Uintah counties last week, the proposed Blue Castle nuclear project took another step on the long road to groundbreaking.
The power plant site is about five miles west-northwest of Green River in Emery County. Final approval by all federal, state and local agencies would give the go-ahead for a generating facility that would match or exceed the output of all the coal-fired power plants now operating in that county. Plans call for 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of capacity at the site.
In contrast, the three units at PacifiCorp's Hunter Plant and both units at the Huntington plant are about 400 megawatts each.
Blue Castle Holdings, Inc., which is developing the site, has reported that it has already secured water rights for the plant. The 53,000 acre-feet of water will be leased for up to 70 years from water users who might otherwise have lost their rights through non-use. At the end of the project life, the water will revert back to the owners.
Blue Castle is also negotiating with utilities to share in the investment and output of the $12- to $15 billion facility. The utilities could obtain the option to buy into 4 to 7 percent of the plant once the permitting process is done.
The company has said that this arrangement greatly reduces the risk for the individual utilities, which would have to commit themselves to the full amount were they to undertake permitting and construction alone. The company last week signed a memorandum of understanding with Page Electric Utility, the municipal power company of Page, Ariz., for potential participation.
At the end of June, BCH announced an arrangement of $30 million in private capital from LeadDog Capital L.P., a New York-based group of investors, for up to three years in early financing of the project.
During its last session, the Utah Legislature included nuclear power in the list of energy development projects eligible for state tax credits.
However, it is not likely that Emery County will be granting any property tax breaks. The taxes the county will collect is one big reason why County Commissioner Gary Kofford is supportive of the project, the commissioner said Friday.
Emery has already zoned the area for industrial development as part of an agreement with the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, he added.
Aaron Tilton, chief executive officer of the Salt Lake City-based BCH, has said that the Emery County site was chosen after two years of study. Emery offers access to available and potential interstate transmission, water, state and local government support, and geologic stability.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is slated to begin its review sometime next year, the company reported.