Blue Castle Holdings Inc. on January 20 received approval from the State of Utah to use existing water rights for the Blue Castle Nuclear Plant Project (BCP) in Green River.
BCH leased the water over 4 years ago from the Kane County and San Juan County Water Conservancy Districts for the expected 60 years of plant operations. After a strict review of the Districts’ applications for changing the points of diversion, places of use, nature of use, and storage of water, Utah’s State Water Engineer approved the 53,600 acre feet of water per year from the Green River for the proposed nuclear electricity generation project.
The approved water for the BCP was allocated previously for electric generation by Utah’s State Water Engineer for use in coal fired power plants that were not constructed. The proposed two-unit Blue Castle Nuclear Project would increase the electricity generated in Utah by approximately 50%, adding between 2,200 to 3,000 Megawatts of installed electrical capacity, using less than 1% of the State’s current water diversion.
Aaron Tilton, CEO of BCH, commented on the decision: “We realized early on that there would be a detailed and deliberate process adjudicated by the State of Utah before the water rights were approved for use at the project. We are pleased that the State Water Engineer, after a thorough review of all requirements under State law, determined that the water was available for withdrawal from the river, that its use at the proposed new nuclear power plant site would not interfere with other water users, that the proposed plan is physically and economically feasible and would not prove detrimental to the public welfare and the environment.”
Central Arizona Project Board of Directors President Pam Pickard and General Manager David Modeer represented CAP on May 24 at a joint hearing of the U. S. House of Representatives Water and Power Subcommittee and the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee. Modeer is scheduled to testify at the hearing, and will provide information about CAP, Arizona’s single largest resource for renewable Colorado River water supplies, and its relationship with the Navajo Generating Station.
“The future of the Navajo Generating Station is now uncertain,” according to CAP Board President Pam Pickard. “EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) is set to release new emission regulations for NGS this year. Their decision could cause NGS to close, significantly raising the cost of the Colorado River water we deliver to 80 percent of Arizona’s population.”
CAP relies on NGS for nearly all of its energy needs. The coal-fired Navajo plant was constructed as a dedicated source of electricity for CAP and provides very cost-effective power supplies. The EPA is seeking to improve visibility at a number of regional national parks and monuments by mandating controls on nitrogen oxide emissions at NGS. The plant owners have already installed effective controls at a cost of more than $45 million, but EPA favors a much more expensive technology that could cost more than $1 billion to install.
NGS faces other future uncertainties, including the renewal of land and water leases. Rather than risk a huge and potentially unrecoverable $1 billion investment, the NGS participants may consider closing the plant. CAP would then need to meet its energy needs through other means.
“It’s important that Congress and the Obama Administration recognize the impact the EPA decision on NGS emission controls would have on CAP and its customers,” stated Modeer prior to the hearing. “Developing and maintaining an affordable and reliable CAP water supply has transcended Arizona’s partisan political divisions since the 1940s, and our state government and congressional delegation are once again unified in their desire to resolve this issue.
The U.S. Department of Energy applied years ago for large-scale water rights to service the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. Now, with rulings from the presidential level that Yucca Mountain is being scratched, so are those applications.
They have been challenged vigorously in state for years, and opposed by the state government whose permission was needed to grant them.
Energy had submitted 116 water right applications.
[see Reno Gazette-Journal, February 9]
Utah State Representative Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who also is the executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District, this month asked the Utah Division of Water Rights for permission to send 29,600 acre-feet of water from Kane to Emery County, for use in a nuclear power facility.
He is not acting unilaterally: In 2007 Kane County and Transition Power contracted to shift those water rights, for $100,000 per year (with the sums rising over time). The water would go to the proposed Blue Castle nuclear power plant. That proposal drew quick negative response from environmental groups and some others.
A group of Green River (Utah) area activists are opposing a licensure of proposed water rights for one or possibly two nuclear power plants being considered for development in southeast Utah.
The nuclear proposal was developed by state Representative Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, the CEO of Transition Power Development. A 2007 statement on the firm’s website said that “Transition Power Development was founded on a single vision – to pave the way for new nuclear generation in Utah.” That was followed up earlier this year when Transition officials told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it planned within a couple of years to deliver an “early site permit application” for two nuclear plants.
However, Tilton lost his legislative seat this year, and the project has developed opposition.
The Deseret News (Salt Lake City [UT], November 19) reported that “Groups that use the Green River for personal and commercial recreation, educational activities and scientific research have filed a formal protest . . . Deputy state engineer Boyd Clayton said Monday that the next step will be to decide if two separate sets of protesters have legal standing to intervene and then to hold a public hearing, which he said could be months away. Clayton said Green River resident Bill Adams is a Green River water-rights holder, which by statute permits him to file a protest. Adams has aligned himself with the advocacy group Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL).”