NARUC and NASEO facilitated a delegation of state members to Richland, Washington on April 25 – 28 comprised of 38 state public utility commissioners, PUC staff, and state energy office participants representing 24 different states. The trip included tours of nuclear energy research facilities at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Framatome’s nuclear fuel manufacturing facility, in addition to an in-person kickoff meeting for members of the newly formed NARUC-NASEO Advanced Nuclear State Collaborative. This visit was made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-NARUC Nuclear Energy Partnership, a cooperative agreement between NARUC and the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy.
During the site visit, participants learned about the work going on at PNNL to enhance the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear generation fleet, toured laboratories to gain a greater understanding of different components of existing and advanced nuclear reactors, explored a nuclear fuel manufacturing facility delivering fuel to approximately one-fourth of the U.S. nuclear fleet, and met counterparts from other states working on similar issues.
On April 26, the NARUC-NASEO delegation traveled to PNNL, where they received briefings from Dr. Steven Ashby, Laboratory Director, and Mark Nutt, Nuclear Energy Sector Manager, on the research activities occurring at PNNL, with a focus on PNNL’s nuclear energy expertise and capabilities. Following the presentations, attendees toured the Radiochemical Processing Lab, the Materials Science & Technology Lab, the Metal Organic Frameworks Lab, the Waste Form Development Lab, the Solid Phase Processing Lab, and the Non-Destructive Evaluation Lab. During these tours, participants learned about materials research and testing for advanced nuclear plants, inspection processes for existing nuclear plants, advances in welding to improve the integrity of materials in nuclear plants, and nuclear waste vitrification and spent fuel management research. Members also heard a presentation on advanced climate modeling taking place at PNNL which supports regional projections, planning, and integrated assessments.
On the morning of April 27, the delegation toured the Framatome nuclear fuel manufacturing facility in Richland, Washington, where uranium dioxide (UO2) powder, pellets, fuel rods and fuel assemblies are produced. Members received a briefing on Framatome’s work on advanced nuclear fuel fabrication. At the conclusion of the tour, attendees had the opportunity to debrief and participate in a question-and-answer session with Framatome staff.
During the afternoon, attendees participated in an Advanced Nuclear State Collaborative Kickoff Meeting. During this meeting, members heard presentations from representatives of public utility commissions and State Energy Offices in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Wyoming to learn about approaches to early advanced nuclear activities across different states. State members also collaborated to identify and prioritize widely shared questions and challenges that will help to shape the ANSC’s approach to the remainder of 2023.
The tours and ANSC Kickoff Meeting provided NARUC and NASEO members with valuable opportunities to learn about scientific and technical developments occurring in the advanced nuclear space, see the fuel manufacturing process in action, and better understand the role state policymakers and regulators play in the future of advanced nuclear. Participants also connected with their counterparts in different states, providing opportunities for future information sharing and collaboration.
NARUC thanks DOE for supporting this site visit and PNNL and Framatome for arranging tours and presentations. For questions about this activity, contact Kiera Zitelman at email@example.com or visit the DOE-NARUC Nuclear Energy Partnership webpage for more information on this partnership.