County: Board Of Public Utilities To Consider A Nuclear-Powered Los Alamos


Energy generation comes in many shapes and sizes, some of which leave lasting carbon footprints and others that don’t. One type of future generation that aims to power cities fully without polluting the environment with carbon involves Small Modular Reactors (SMR)—or nuclear energy. The public is invited to attend an informational workshop on the subject, to be held during the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) monthly work session, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 5:30 pm.

Los Alamos County is a partner in the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), spearheaded by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). This consortium of 48 public power utilities plans to implement NuScale VOYGR power plants, which utilize SMR technology, to power communities in eight western states. The project is expected to bring fully operational nuclear-powered generation to those communities by the end of the decade.

Los Alamos County, through the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), is the only community in New Mexico that has thus far joined the CFPP. In August 2020, Los Alamos subscribed for 1.8 megawatts of nuclear-generated power within a budget of $1.26 million. At that time, DPU officials anticipated Los Alamos would be able to increase its subscription to 8.6 megawatts without increasing costs. This subscription will help DPU achieve its goal to be a net carbon neutral electric provider by 2040.

Two-plus years after subscribing, it’s time to find out if those expectations are still on track. In Wednesday’s BPU work session, leadership from UAMPS and CFPP will update BPU members on the progress of the project.

Mason Baker, UAMPS CEO and general manager, will be joined remotely by Shawn Hughes, CFPP Project Director, in presenting an up-to-date project overview to BPU members. They will discuss economic competitive test results, cost projections, subscription progress, budget and plans for financing the project.

The CFPP was recommended by the Future Energy Resource Committee several years ago and since then, DPU has explored whether adding the CFPP to the County’s energy generation portfolio is a realistic, responsible method of achieving carbon neutrality while also providing reliable, safe, affordable power to Los Alamos County.

“We want our customers to understand our power resources,” said Utility Manager Philo Shelton. “As the ultimate end users and rate payers, it’s important that we operate in alignment with public expectations. Our regular BPU meetings and work sessions are always open to the public and we feel this meeting is an especially important one for them to attend.”

This week’s BPU meeting will be held in the Boards & Commissions Room (room 110) in the Los Alamos County Municipal Building (1000 Central Ave.) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. BPU meetings are held in a hybrid format so anyone preferring to attend online may log on using the link provided at

Combining the information learned in the workshop with that regarding other potential energy resources, DPU will host a Town Hall on January 26 to present and discuss available options for future power generation. Community input is welcome and desired.