Two reactors are likely for the nuclear power project planned for somewhere in Utah by Transition Power Development, says an owner of the company, Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville.

Cost of the two units could reach billions of dollars, and its water would come from the Kane County Water Conservancy District, whose director is Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab.

The representatives hold important posts on legislative committees dealing with nuclear power and have come under criticism for possible conflicts of interest.

On Thursday, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said questions about that issue are up to voters and the Legislature to decide.

Asked why two generating units might be built, Tilton said, "You need economies of scale. ... We fully intend to have more than one unit."

Asked if more than two units could be built, he said that was possible but planners would need to address questions of water resources and transmission of power.

Each unit probably would generate an average of 1,500 mega-watts, he said.

Asked for a timeline on the plant's construction, Tilton replied, "It's still a long way out."

The place with the greatest need for power generated by the plant, at least as far as its planners have seen so far, is in Utah, he said.

PacifiCorp, whose Rocky Mountain Power supplies most of Utah residents' electrical needs, has said it needs to purchase 3,500 megawatts from other areas, he said. That is about 30 percent of its market, and that utility has no plans for new generating units at the present, he added.

"Then you have regional needs that have to be considered as well," in Arizona, Nevada and California. If needs there are not met, by 2016 PacifiCorp will need an additional 30 percent or more, he said.

When interviewed by the Deseret Morning News on Oct. 15, Tilton discounted an indication in a trade journal that the plant might take its water from the Green River. On Thursday, he reiterated that caution.

In the water contract, Transition Power noted Emery County as a point of diversion, Tilton said. But it was only on the document as a sort of placeholder, he added. "Our water right is good for the whole Upper Colorado River Basin."

The town of Green River is located on the river of that name, in Emery County. But Tilton said, "We have not confirmed anything with the Emery County Commission or anybody down in Emery County."

Transition Power has had preliminary discussions concerning Emery County, but it has had such talks with other locations.

The company has the eastern half of Utah under consideration, Tilton added.

"We have multiple locations," he said. "We just haven't chosen one."

During Huntsman's monthly press conference on KUED Channel 7, the governor said questions of conflicts of interest are "something that voters ultimately need to decide ... the Legislature can do whatever it wants."

Asked if alleged conflicts of interest among some lawmakers would prevent the project from getting a fair hearing at the Legislature, Huntsman said, "I can't speak to that issue. This isn't necessarily a Legislature-driven issue. This is more national policy."

He said that whatever incentives are created to encourage nuclear power development in the state should be extended to other non-carbon sources of energy, including wind, geothermal, solar and even hydro.

"If you're going to do it for one, I would ask that you do it for all of them," Huntsman said.

He said any significant progress on a nuclear plant in Utah is at least 10 years to 20 years away. "The only reason that I don't dismiss it outright is because if you're going to take climate change seriously ... you have to keep the nuclear option on the table."

Storing radioactive waste generated by a nuclear power plant is a particular concern for the governor, who led the successful fight to stop a high-level waste storage site from being built in Tooele County.

Huntsman told the Deseret Morning News last month that he could not support a nuclear plant in Utah until the technology is developed to safely reprocess the plant's radioactive waste on-site.


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