Nuclear Electricity Expansion in New Hampshire

PRS Briefs
Friday, May 10, 2024

Expanding nuclear energy production is increasingly considered crucial to attaining a dependable, large-scale, low-carbon energy future. In the last 30 years, however, only one reactor in the U.S. has successfully been licensed, constructed, and made operational. Advanced nuclear technology offers a variety of innovative approaches to address some of the challenges associated with traditional nuclear reactors, but it has yet to be fully developed and commercially deployed. In June 2022, the General Court of New Hampshire created the New Hampshire Nuclear Study Commission to investigate the potential implementation of next-generation nuclear reactor technology in the state. The commission asked us to provide further context on their work by researching how state government can contribute to the future of nuclear energy in New Hampshire given the state's deregulated electric power structure. Our case-study analysis covers three nuclear power projects: Plant Vogtle, the most recent nuclear power plant to begin commercial operation in the U.S.; NuScale's Carbon Free Power Project, an advanced nuclear generator project terminated due to financial challenges; and Seabrook Station, New Hampshire's only nuclear power plant. These projects highlight both the financial challenges and benefits of nuclear energy generation. Overall, we find that financial and regulatory hurdles are currently preventing the widespread implementation of advanced nuclear reactors. Nevertheless, we explore potential state actions to aid in the future incorporation of innovative nuclear technologies in New Hampshire within the framework of the state's competition-driven energy market. These include enacting a Clean Energy Standard, implementing workforce development and public awareness initiatives, investing in transmission, and taking advantage of federal programs.