Last week, a judge in Price ruled that Utah’s state engineer acted properly in allowing a development company to lease water rights in the Green River for a proposed nuclear power plant. Blue Castle Holdings is now planning to move ahead with the next step -- applications to federal regulators for the plant itself.
Blue Castle has agreed to lease rights to more than 53,000 acre-feet of water to operate a 3,000 megawatt power plant near Green River. Environmental groups had challenged the agreement, and they may yet appeal the court’s ruling.
But Aaron Tilton, the former state legislator who runs Blue Castle Holdings, says the decision will now help them attract interest from big investors.
Tilton tells KUER, “With these types of milestones like the court’s decision on approving the water, the utilities and other vendor or industry partners that we’re discussing have the incentive to come in and look at it.”
Tilton believes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could grant its applications for an early site permit and a construction and operating license by 2017 – and he hopes to announce major partners for the project before that happens.
Matt Pacenza with HEAL Utah says the 15 to 20-billion dollar cost of the project may be more important in the long run than today’s court battles.
“Ultimately, what’s gonna probably be the critical factor that shapes whether this project moves forward is whetyher there’s a utility actually interested in buying the electricity, and frankly whether Utah needs this much power or not,” Pacenza tells KUER.
HEAL Utah and other opponents of the project will have to decide in the next few weeks whether to appeal the water decision in Utah’s state courts. Pacenza says those courts are likely to be more familiar with critical issues within the state than federal regulators.