Politics

Bill Gates Picks Wyoming Town To Set Up Nuclear Reactor

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TerraPower, a nuclear power venture founded by Bill Gates, announced Tuesday that it has picked a coal-mining town in Wyoming as the site for building a $4 billion demonstration nuclear plant with partial funding from the U. S. government.

TerraPower, along with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, has picked Kemmerer, a remote western Wyoming town for building the Natrium plant “following an extensive evaluation process and meetings with community members and leaders,” according to a statement on the company’s website. Factors for choosing Kemmerer included physical characteristics, infrastructure, and the ability of the site to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The 345-megawatt Natrium demonstration reactor, scheduled to be opened in 2028, will essentially replace the Warren Buffett-owned Naughton coal plant which is due to be shut down in 2025. Construction of the new advanced nuclear plant is expected to give employment to around 2,000 people with 250 employees needed to support day-to-day activities.

“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.

About half of the project funding, $1.9 billion, will be done by the U. S. government as part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill that was signed recently with bipartisan support. Along with the Natrium plant, other advanced nuclear reactors are being supported by the government, with the Department of Energy planning to invest $3.2 billion into such ventures over a period of seven years.

“It’s a very serious government grant,” Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower, told reporters. “This was necessary because the U. S. government and the U.S. nuclear industry was falling behind.”

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