NuScale Power, a company based in Portland, Ore., announced on Wednesday that it is canceling a project called the Carbon-Free Power Project, which had been expected to deliver six of the company’s 77-megawatt reactors. Despite more than two dozen utilities having signed up to buy electricity from the reactors, the number of subscribers fell short of what was needed to move the project forward. The decision to cancel the project followed an update from NuScale this year regarding the cost of building the reactors, which had soared to $9.3 billion from $5.3 billion.
The Carbon-Free Power Project was the result of an agreement between NuScale and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, which supplies electricity to public power providers in seven Western states, including California. The project was first proposed in 2014 and aimed to usher in a new wave of power plants, but the lack of subscribers and the skyrocketing cost of building the reactors led to its cancellation. NuScale’s stock price fell more than 20 percent, to $2.37, in after-hours trading following the announcement, and its value has declined more than 70 percent in the past 12 months.
Despite the disappointment, Mason Baker, CEO of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, stated that they are working closely with NuScale and the U.S. Department of Energy on next steps to wind the Carbon-Free Power Project down. NuScale also told investors that it would repurpose materials developed for the project for other customers, indicating a shift in focus following the project’s cancellation. This decision has raised questions about the future of small nuclear reactors and their potential impact on the power industry.