In a Q&A with Public Utilities Fortnightly (PUF), Pillsbury Energy partner and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner Jeff Merrifield, who currently serves as the chair of the Advanced Nuclear Working Group for the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, dives into the future of small modular reactors, the new generation of nuclear technology that comes with it and utility production, among other related topics.

In a discussion about advanced nuclear reactors, Merrifield told PUF, “What's different today? The price of natural gas is up, but the most important element that aligns for a hopeful future for nuclear is a recognition of the noncarbon-generation benefits it provides that we don't receive from other forms of generation.”

“Half of the power in the United States that is carbon-free is produced by nuclear power. Twenty percent of our total generation in the U.S. is nuclear and it has roughly been that number for years,” he said. “People realize it's reliable.”

“The flexibility these technologies represent for the public utility commissions and utilities is extraordinary,” Merrifield said when considering the next generation of nuclear plants.  “That's another reason I'm excited about the dialogue we had at the recent National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners [NARUC] Summer Policy Summit. There's been real leadership within the NARUC membership on trying to better understand these technologies.”

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