Dairyland exploring nuclear energy in NuScale agreement

March 9, 2022 GMT

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A La Crosse-based energy company is exploring the possibility of adding nuclear energy back into its mix of power sources.

Dairyland Power Cooperative has entered into an agreement with NuScale Power based in Portland, Oregon to explore using its smaller scale nuclear generating technology to provide power to more than a half million customers in Wisconsin and some neighboring states.

“We would describe our involvement at this stage as exploratory,” said Dairyland executive John Carr. ”(We) definitely owe it to our members to explore all of the alternatives available.”

Dairyland has invested in carbon-free wind and solar power in recent years, but Carr says despite that investment there are winter when the company is getting 50% to 75% of its energy from carbon fuel sources like coal or natural gas.

Dairyland once generated nuclear power at its plant in Genoa but stopped producing it in 1987. Just one nuclear power plant is currently operating in Wisconsin — the Point Beach plant in Two Rivers near Lake Michigan.

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NuScale Power has developed what it describes as groundbreaking small modular reactor technology it considers safer, creating a smaller footprint for energy companies to build new nuclear plants, Wisconsin Public Radio News reported.

Finding a federal repository for existing and future spent nuclear waste is one of the keys to building new nuclear plants. Wisconsin allows for new construction only if a place to store spent nuclear fuel is approved by the federal government. While it’s been debated for years, there’s been no resolution.