Suzie Jaworowski discusses her background in the oil and gas industry, the nuclear energy office at the Department of Energy, and her role in communications as an international energy consultant.
[00:00:00] Suzie Jaworoski: My vision of the future is that if the United States will embrace the technology that we have it’s gonna trickle down to the everyday citizen in a big way. We will have abundant jobs, we will have clean energy. It will make an impact on our environment and on our economy.
[00:00:19] Intro: Just because the facts are A, if the narrative is B and everyone believes the narrative, then B is what matters. But it’s our job in our industry to speak up proudly, soberly. And to engage people that are in energy poverty, they need us. America cannot meet this threat alone. If there is a single country.
Of course the world cannot meet it without America. That is willing to. We’re gonna need you. The next generation to finish the need scientists to design new fuels. And focus on net public benefit. We need engineers to invent new technologies. Over absurd levels of radiation. Entrepreneurs to sell those technologies.
And we will march towards this. We need workers to operate a. Assembly lines that hum with high tech, zero carbon components. We have unlimited prosperity for all of you. We need diplomats, businessmen and women, and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations skip past the dirty phase of development and transition to sustainable sources of energy.
In other words, we need you.
[00:01:23] Mark Hinaman: Okay. Welcome to another episode of the Fire2Fission podcast. My name’s Mark Hinaman, and on this podcast we talk about energy dense fuels and how they can better human lives. I’m. Very excited for our guest today, Suzie Jaworowski. She’s an international energy consultant, currently consulting for NuScale power, but has a varied background, including was previously the Chief of Staff in the Office of Nuclear Energy for the DOE, as well as has consulted internationally and health jobs kind of, in a myriad of industry.
So, we’ll, get into a bunch of that. Suzie, how you doing?
[00:01:55] Suzie Jaworoski: Hi Mark. I’m doing great today. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. Looking forward to it.
[00:02:01] Mark Hinaman: I’m really excited for this discussion. We covered a couple of things before we started recording, and I, I just think it’s, it’s gonna be awesome.
So, Suzie, why don’t we start with kind of your background. You mentioned before we started recording that you had a background in oil and gas and coal. Let’s, let’s start there. What was that? What kind of work did you.
[00:02:19] Suzie Jaworoski: I worked for a company called Halldor Energy that developed mostly coal mines, but also had oil and natural gas plays.
And I did all of their communications and also, government affairs work. And so while I was with them, it wasn’t unusual for me to take legislators 500 feet underground and, drive the man truck and have somebody give them a tour of the underground coal mine. And then we would usually take them over to the coal fire power plant and you could open up the little window and look into the fire burning that where the coal goes in, and really get an idea for exactly how, coals used as a base load source.
And then also really educated people about all the investment that the Federal government regulates in terms of capturing all those particulate matters and c o two in a coal mine in a coal fired power plant.
[00:03:14] Mark Hinaman: That’s great. How long did you do that?
[00:03:17] Suzie Jaworoski: I was there for six years and that was one of my clients that I, I really became kind of an embedded resource with and, and enjoyed being part of their team.
It was definitely at a time where coal was under fire and a lot of pressure from the federal government in terms of regulatory. And so it really made the role of being able to educate people about the value of baseload power and the value and enhanced Enhanced emissions controls that we had been using in the United States.
And so communicating about those was really important at that time.
[00:03:52] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, i, I mean, I think this is an important point to highlight. This is still true that the fewest number of people in the United States are harmed from air pollution more than anywhere else in the world, right? And I mean, some of those emission controls, or it’s because of some of those mission controls, right?
[00:04:08] Suzie Jaworoski: Yes, exactly. It’s made a big difference. And you know, I think we, we all want clean air. We all want clean water, and we have to be realistic about that and look at what our true environment is. In the last 40 years, we’ve cleaned up the atmosphere around the United States in a tremendous amount.
Made great strides doing that, and we’ve been able to maintain our valuable resources that come from fossil fuels and are still being used today in the United States. They use more cleanly, more efficiently than anywhere else in the world. And so, you know, as we look to the future, clearly cleaner sources are, are.
Coming online and extremely valuable and being able to create a mix that works well where you are. If you’re in a place like Idaho Falls and Idaho, they have a fantastic resource in their hydro power, and that’s clean. That’s pretty much always on for them, and so they’re lucky to use that. Niagara Falls is still in use and that’s a great resource for hydropower.
If you don’t happen to have that kind of natural resource or can’t build it close by being able to utilize nuclear power is my favorite choice right now, but I really, truly believe we have to be able to utilize our full power of all of our resources and do it in a, in efficient, clean, reasonable way that keeps our grid stable.
And also I think something that, that is an important point for us to think about in our. Country today is shifting from the mindset of deploying so much energy efficiency and letting, like taking away electricity to use less and less and less, and only building out to the very minimal that we need.
And switching that on its head and saying, wait a second. We have these huge economic development opportunities. I live in the Midwestern part of the United States, our economic development work here in the state of Indiana, in the state north of me in Michigan, in the state south of US in Kentucky to the left and the right in Ohio and Illinois.
They are getting huge opportunities for projects that are two and a half gigawatts, up to four gigawatts. Needed a power for data centers, semiconductors. A business is coming back to the United States. But frankly, we do not have the energy infrastructure to satisfy that and to really deploy that economic development next generation.
And so I think our philosophy needs to change from just use less, use less. We’ve gotten that down really well. Like we know how to be efficient with energy. Even as a consumer today, we all know how to do that. We’ve been trained to turn out the lights and appreciate the value of what comes out of the plug.
But I think from a strategic point, we need to start saying, We have nuclear power, we have clean natural gas, we use coal better than anybody else in the whole world. We’ve gotta deploy the resources that we have right now in order to build back the country. You know, there’s, there’s the concept of build back better.
Well, I really, truly believe that opportunities at our doorstep, but we can’t do it without infrastructure and energy is the most valuable infrastructure. Being able to be realistic about our energy generation and what it does to our environment and what controls we have to protect our environment. A lot of these generation sources are very much misunderstood. I think nuclear is the perfect example. And I mentioned nuclear to people and sometimes they’re afraid. They think bombs and, and things like that. And really nuclear energy is not that. And in order to be able to bring all these huge industries back to the United States, We have to deploy nuclear power, especially if we wanna be carbon neutral by 2050.
And that’s the goal of so many countries, so many industries. That’s just the way we have to do it. We really, truly have to consider nuclear as a base load source and then not leave behind valuable other resources that we’ve been using cleanly and efficiently for a long time.
[00:08:20] Mark Hinaman: Suzie, while you were describing that, I, I’ll be honest, I got goosebumps.
Like the, the idea and the philosophy is so empowering that I just heard, which is this idea of abundance, this, this mindset that we should be exactly leveraging the technologies that we know exist and building more and not scaling back demand necessarily. Mm-hmm. But what else can we do with deploying more energy worldwide, domestically, internationally, worldwide?
[00:08:49] Suzie Jaworoski: Much of our roadblocks are perceptional and especially in the United States, regulatory, we set up a lot of roadblocks and, and I understand that we need to be able to build wisely and be smart about it. And, and I, I’m not saying let’s just go build, you know, way beyond our needs, but I think the, the larger we can scale up right now, The more we can take advantage of this moment in time where there’s prosperity right around the corner and, and I feel like we can see around the corner right now and what’s coming, if we take advantage of this point in time, is these large scale industries coming back to the United States.
And really growing it. It’s, it’s an exciting time. I think the future is extremely bright, but we are at a tipping point. I mean, we are hearing from the interconnected service operators all the time, concerns about blackouts and brownouts, and nobody likes to talk about that, but that is a reality.
Because our grid needs to be upgraded. We cannot operate just on the majority or a large portion of intermittent sources like wind and solar. It is great, but we need to know the reality of what it can do and what it can’t do today. And even battery storage. That’s come a long way. It’s great to have it there, but it is not at a commercialized scale.
It’s not at a large scale for deployment. And so, Being realistic about we, what we have, and we have to listen to those interconnected service operators, the ISOs and the Ercot, and all of the different grid operators. Because things like here in the Midwest, we had a. Very cold two days, right before Christmas last year, and we came so close, not just in one state, but in about five different states of having blackouts right before Christmas.
Every summer there’s a world. Can you imagine? Man, we’ve only built up to just. At the very edge, and then the grid has not been built up along with it. So both in terms of generation, in terms of grid infrastructure development, both of those have to be addressed. It’s not gonna happen overnight. It takes a commitment that you don’t just start building it and then go.
The price of this generation has gotten so much less, we’re gonna abandon this and go to that. No. You say this is an important, a base load. Source is really important to build out. It might take five years, it might take seven years, but the return is the next a hundred years. We have 24 7, 365 base load nuclear power.
That’s the safest power there is out there, believe it or not. And we know how to manage it better than anybody else in the world. So. There’s really no reason not to move forward.
[00:11:32] Mark Hinaman: You sound really, really well educated about this topic. Have you always been in energy, has your entire background in energy or how, how did you get interested in it, and then how’d you get educated about it?
[00:11:45] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, I will tell you no, I’ve not always been in energy. My background was mostly in communications and government affairs kinds of work. I had four children in five years. So if you’re a woman listening to this podcast and you’re thinking, oh, she must be an engineer, or something like that, I’m not an engineer.
I mostly communications and marketing, research and strategy and my background. Having four kids in five and a half years. I didn’t work for a few years and I’m proud of the time I took off to be there with my kids. But then I started consulting and wanted to do consulting so that when I put my kids on the bus, I could be there, I could be there when they came home from school.
Family is a big priority for me, and I was fortunate to have a work career path that I could do from home. But you know, I’d have to go into the office often, but I didn’t have to be there all the time. And this is long before we had Zoom and video chat and things like that. I had a lot of clients that were involved in energy, different sectors.
I would do strategic planning for utilities. I would do advocacy work for the American Coalition for Clean Coal electricity was a client of mine. I did government affairs work for Halldor Energy, as I mentioned. I, I did some research studies for different renewable companies and so I had a lot of different work I did with different kinds of energy, and it just was over and over again.
A lot of energy clients. And I very quickly saw how crucial energy is for our way of life especially here in the United States. And I am a very patriotic person and I, I didn’t get to mention in my introduction, but I, I worked for the US Department of Energy. You mentioned I was chief of staff in the office of Nuclear Energy, and that was a great.
Honor for me to work for the US Federal Government in that capacity. And when I did that, I traveled around the world a lot and also met people from countries, some countries that. No one, no other country that I was at had the same kind of energy infrastructure that we do. But now places like Asia are trying are starting to surpass us, definitely.
But even in Europe my experience was they did not have the same kind of energy, luxury that we have, that we take for granted. In Africa, being in South Africa, South Africa is a beautiful Cape Town is a modern city, and even there they have load shedding. At any point in time you could be in an elevator and the electricity goes off because they have to cut back on their electricity.
We take that for granted. And so I look at that as a matter of national security and a strategic asset for us as a country. And so that’s why I’m so bullish on the concept of building out our energy generation and our grid. But what your question was how did I get involved in energy? And that was, I had so many clients in energy that I really.
The appreciation for what it does to us every day. And I started to say to people I, I ended up running for office here in Indiana. I I did not win that, that Chair, but I, I felt compelled to do it, mostly because our electricity strategy in the country was very off kilter and I could see the price of energy going up and I always said, you know, if the price of energy goes up, the price of bread goes up.
That I think hits home to a lot of people, and that’s really why I got into electricity more full-time. Why? When I, when I was asked to apply for working in the last administration at the Trump administration, I, the only place I asked to work was the Department of Energy. And then when I got there, they asked where I wanted to be placed for my four years there and I asked for the office of nuclear energy because I felt like nuclear is where the future is and it hasn’t told its story very well. People still shy away from nuclear. So one of my personal goals in my career is to educate people about the reality of the safety and the abundance and the prosperity that nuclear can bring to us in, in our country, if we can just understand it better.
And realize there’s, we, we manage it really well, and so we don’t have to be afraid of having a nuclear power plant, especially the modern, small mod modular reactors, advanced reactors, plants today.
[00:16:11] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. So let’s talk about your time at the Department of Energy a little bit. For those unfamiliar, I mean, it sounds simple, department of Energy, but there’s this huge umbrella of different departments, uh mm-hmm.
Inside of the D O e when, when I’ve looked at, it’s something like 30 to 40 separate entities. Right. National Labs and different offices. Mm-hmm. But you were in the office of Nuclear Energy specifically. Can you describe what kind of that office does for the audience, and then what your role was there?
[00:16:38] Suzie Jaworoski: Thank you. Yes, it’s, it, it’s true. The Department of Energy complex is vast and it is amazing. It is an asset that we have in the United States that is incredible. They work on, I’ll say, my dad
always wind about it. Growing up, he was like, when we started it, we, we didn’t, we didn’t need it. Like it wasn’t necessary.
But I don’t think he quite understood the history and I, I disagree with him now. I think it’s actually a really valuable asset that the US has. So
I, I couldn’t agree more. I had no idea how vast and what it does. I mean, the 17 National Science Labs people, secretary Perry, among others, I’m sure the current secretary too, refers to them as crown jewels in the United States Science portfolio.
There is amazing work being done there. Work that we will benefit from for generations to come. And so it is really leading edge bleeding, edge mo mostly all science research and development for future technologies and making our existing technologies much more energy efficient better useful.
Evolving them. So there’s there, there are all different offices. There’s the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that has enjoyed great support over the last 40 years and created what we now have as our very abundant resources and wind winds and solar, as well as all the energy efficient programs that have been rolled out across the country over the last 30 years.
That’s all of that has. Developed and been rolled out from the US Department of Energy. It is mostly a research function as an agency, but interestingly enough, when you look at nuclear energy, it is very unique because nuclear energy is not something that. Private sector entity can do on its own. You have to have some form of government involvement at a large scale, and you have to have a lot of investment.
It is a major undertaking. It’s very different than if you’re a solar company and you, you can build a solar company on your own. You know? Yes, you’re gonna wanna probably get grants and funding from the US Department of Energy or things like that, but, Nuclear is different. And nuclear for the United States is different.
And nuclear is a very international energy source. It’s not just an electricity source, but it is a national security asset. So for example, if we go into another country like. NuScale is working all around the world. NuScale has a an opportunity right now, a project signed in Poland, a project signed in Romania.
Those European countries are anxious to have their own national security through their own electricity instead of relying on Russian gas. If you’re relying on Russian gas and the Russians want you to do something differently, they can just literally turn off that gas line. They’ve done it before. If Russia or China builds your nuclear power plant, they will give you the fuel, but then they’ll take back the fuel.
That fuel is more highly enriched. They could do nefarious things with that fuel. So having a partner like the United States, be your partner in nuclear. It’s really important because those other partners in from China and Russia, they are known to use it as a weapon against you. If you don’t do what they want and they do not tip, tend to localize the resource.
Meaning they don’t develop local jobs, they don’t share local profits. They, they. They operate it and they insulate it with their own people and their own technology. When you’re a partner with the United States on a nuclear power plant, that means we’ve gotta be BFFs for about the next 80 to a hundred years, and the US will train people right now. For another example, in Africa, about half the continent of Africa does not have access to reliable electricity. And in this day and age, that should be a crime. I mean, I’ve heard stories of women having babies and they lost the baby ’cause the baby was born in the middle of the night, had no electricity, didn’t have the money to buy a candle to go and have the baby.
So, It’s, it’s unbelievable what happens when you don’t have electricity. So, that’s a big goal is for the United States to partner with on the continent of Africa and make sure that people do have access to reliable electricity and bring our industry there. So in doing that, the United States government is prepared to help develop workforce so that the local people in the African nations can learn how to own and operate power plants.
They’re doing educational programs, they’re providing simulators and training centers. And then we bring us industry in. Which helps the United States domestically. The more we build these reactors around the world, the more they’re gonna deploy here in the United States. Also, the more our companies do well and prosper.
And so we as a partner in something like nuclear or natural gas or coal or wherever we’re partnering around the world, the US is a really good partner to do that with. And so we wanna make sure that we are competitive. On the global stage and not just here domestically.
[00:21:53] Mark Hinaman: Was the A R D P program part of your work during that tenure? Can you talk a little bit about that?
[00:22:01] Suzie Jaworoski: Yes, absolutely. Happy to do that. So I was there during the evolution that we started, when I first got there. The only
[00:22:08] Mark Hinaman: I guess real quick, the ARDP Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, right. That’s, yep.
The advanced reactive demonstration.
[00:22:17] Suzie Jaworoski: That’s right. Advanced Reactor Demonstration program. That was kind of phase two. Phase one was we first had an SMR program and the SMR program was, had chosen NuScale power, who I now work for full disclosure, but chosen them in 2010. To be the first design really to focus on one design and kind of get that across the finish line.
Then in 20 17, 18 or so we unveiled the advanced reactor deployment program, and that’s where there was more funding for a whole host of different, not just small modular reactor designs, but also support and supply chain areas for those small modular reactor designs. Right now there are 50. 50 plus different designs for small modular reactors that are out there.
Haven’t been through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but the A R D P is a way to help these new designs, first of all, finish their research and development and move into deployment and then help them go through the nuclear regulatory, very stringent certification program, the US Nuclear Regulatory commission is the gold standard for how to certify, safeguard, and secure nuclear energy around the world. And so other countries look to our N R C process and that’s why thank God we’ve not had any major problems in the United States. I mean, people point to Three Mile Island, but Three Mile Island, really everything happened the way it was supposed to.
It’s a scary thing when there’s something that goes wrong in a nuclear plant. All the safeguards went into place and no one died. No one was severely ill or anything like that, and it truly wasn’t nearly what it was made out to be. You know, it was a serious accident. But all the safeguards went into place and it could have been something much worse if it weren’t designed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
So back to your question about being at the d o e at the office of Nuclear Energy. Yes. We, we rolled out the Advanced reactor deployment program to bring a lot more compat competitors into this marketplace. And Did so many things help support universities around the United States in their program.
One of the things that was a landmark in my career was that the nuclear, the university program out of the office of Nuclear Energy gave a grant to Purdue University to develop a digital control room. So the old control rooms that are in really every operating plant in the United States right now. I guess maybe not at Vogel, the brand new one, but they’re all analog.
They look very old fashioned. Well, Purdue University through one of the d o E grants, put in a digitized control room and it’s extremely modern and it was really great to be there when they unveiled that control room because it showed we were moving out of the old and into the new for nuclear power and really deploying very advanced innovation to monitor and manage nuclear energy projects.
[00:25:31] Mark Hinaman: I love that. Super interesting. So after you ended your time at the d o e how did you decide what to do next and how’d you get involved with news?
[00:25:39] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, first I had to stop at the International Atomic Energy Agency. I went there for a year and I was a consultant to the Director General. And I helped to work on projects that would fund all of their non-nuclear energy side of things, the side of things where You know, around the world, countries don’t have access to nuclear energy.
So if you are somebody who has breast cancer and you’re in Southeast Asia, or you’re on the continent of Africa, you may not have a great chance of surviving that simply because the. Nuclear medicine infrastructure is not in place in those parts of the world. And so I worked on helping funding things like that all over the world where nuclear, non-energy technology can impact lives.
And so we worked on a project that we like to call nuclear saves because it’s very juxtaposed to what people think about, but it’s nuclear saves does things like puts x-ray and, and nuclear medicine into places in the world where it’s not nuclear saves, helps to identify plastics in the ocean and clean up plastics in the ocean.
Nuclear saves also helps with zoonotic disease and being able to do the covid type testing that you have to do that’s used with nuclear medicine. So, All these things that people don’t think about. We helped, I helped raise some money for doing those projects all around the world. So that was great.
And then when I came back to the United States I had always admired NuScales technology and was fortunate enough to help them with their market development work as a consultant, which I’m still doing today. And really proud of that because. Definitely NuScale Power is the leader in small modular nuclear reactors.
No one else has gone through, as I mentioned, the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions certification process that took over $400 million and about six years to complete. So it’s not an easy task and others will get there for sure. There are some other great designs in the market, but it, they’re just gonna be that much behind what NuScale has already deployed.
But it’s interesting because, It is so much a repackaged of existing technology. So in some ways it’s first of a kind, but really it’s existing technology that has been scaled down, enhanced safety so much. You can literally, if there’s an overheating event at a NuScale power plant it is designed so that there’s no electricity backup needed.
There’s no human engagement needed. The plant shuts down on its own. It cools by itself indefinitely, so it’s extraordinarily enhanced in its safety. Also, the emergency planning zone is right there at the fence line, and so a plant is about 36 square acres. You could put it in the middle of a downtown where you are sitting in Denver.
You could put one right next door to your building. The gate is the fence line, so you do not need a 10 mile. E p z emergency planning zone anymore, and it, it changes the way that you can deploy nuclear because you can, you can use it right there in the middle of a city, or we’re talking to a lot of potential customers who wanna connect it directly to a steel manufacturer or a semiconductor company, or an EV battery manufacturer.
Somebody who needs 24 7 carbon free, large scale power. And they have the resources and the time to build one for the long run. So, it’s really amazing technology. I’m excited ’cause I know in the next few years they’re start to be deployed and it’s gonna change the shape of how our electric generation is developed over the next a hundred years.
[00:29:30] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. They’ve been pretty public in the news with their progress, which is super awesome. But we, we had the opportunity to tour the Ft. St. Vrain power plant here in Colorado. Right. Used to be a nuclear facility, had a high temperature gas reactor. The design was by combustion engineering.
And I remember we were walking around the basement underneath what the containment structure was and there were all these helium pumps and tons of complicated equipment and it was crowded. And one of the tour guides used to work on the plant actually. And he said, man, it got super hot in here. And you know, it’d be like 120 degrees, 130 degrees.
’cause it’s right. I mean, literally on the other side of the concrete, it’s the nuclear reactor and steam generator. Yeah. And one of the gentlemen on the tour with us is actually familiar with the NuScale design and kind of more intricacies of the plant and made the offhand comment like, This is absurd that this was ever like used as a design, like compared to NuScales, this is like Yeah, a joke.
Like the design, the, the plant now is so much simpler and there’s just a tremendously, like, less equipment and yeah. So I, I, I wanted to tell that anecdote ’cause I think it’s a testament to everything. That’s a good said.
[00:30:40] Suzie Jaworoski: I often when I’ve had to testify at legislative hearings about nuclear and, and what it is often the.
Anti-nuclear folks, they, they try to bring up horror stories and try to make it seem like it’s still, you know, the way it was 50, 60 years ago in, in early development. And I always give the example of, you know, that’s the difference between deploying a tank, an old tank from the 1950s or sixties to a Tesla today.
Completely different. The Tesla comes off the assembly line and it is sleek and it is innovative. The tank is kind of built from the ground up. It’s heavy, it’s clunky, it’s big. They’re two totally different vehicles. You know, they both move you forward, but they’re two totally different vehicles. And another an anecdote that we had one time we were giving a, a large utility was out in Corvallis, Oregon at our headquarters looking at our simulator for the.
Control room. The control room simulator. It’s extremely innovative. High tech, it’s all digital. It’s amazing. And one of the. Nuclear folks. That was the engineers that was touring it. As soon as he walked into the simulated control room, he said, Alexa, turn on the reactor. Just like it was so high tech that he expected to be able to have a voice to control for the reactor.
And I thought that was really funny.
[00:32:07] Mark Hinaman: I like that. I would take your anecdote or your ex, your metaphor even further. Like it’s, it’s a tank versus N 35. Right. But yeah,
[00:32:17] Suzie Jaworoski: exactly.
That’s a good one too. Yeah, definitely.
[00:32:20] Mark Hinaman: What, what other, what are the talking points about kind of the future with new skill? I mean, you mentioned the International deployments.
Super awesome. Like, do we think that, that these plants are gonna be built internationally? First? I, I mean, it got licensed in the US but is, are, are we gonna see the, the Carbon Free Power Project? Right. Which is up in Idaho. That’s the Amps project deployed first. Like what’s, I don’t know. Give us, give us, tell us a story about what the future looks like for, for company.
[00:32:45] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, the future is bright. We have so much interest in these reactors. I think our biggest challenge is gonna be that you can only make so many of those. Large reactor vessels. We’ve started making them right now in our partner Doosan in Korea is, is building them and to see them, if you go to the website, the NuScale website, you can find videos of those being forged right now.
And it is awesome. It’s amazing. So it’s really happening. I think that’s probably the biggest message is that, you know, pretty much everybody else that’s. Building these haven’t gotten to that point where it’s actually building, like we’re on the assembly line right now. So I, I’m, I think one of our concerns is, We won’t be able to build them fast enough.
You know, there’s, there is the Carbon Free Power Project that’s due to be commercial and online in 29. We could deliver that sooner, but our customer out there requested that’s when they would need the generation. So that’s good. We have several others domestically and, and personally I’d love to see us deploy first in the United States, and that still is a possibility.
We could do that. So, although right now the Carbon Free Power Project is. Scheduled to be the first to deploy. Someone else could come in and be first. So we’ll see what happens there. And then it’s, you know, we do, like I said, I’d love to see it deployed in the United States, but nuclear is a very international.
Product, if you will. And we also look at anybody who is a friendly ally to the United States and needs nuclear power and is in a position to deploy SMRs they’re a prospect also. So it’s kind of a race to the first right now. And we have a lot of. Interested parties all over the world, many here in the United States.
So it’s kind of, we’re coming down to the last few laps in the Indy 500 and we’ll see who crosses the finish line first. So, I, I can’t really, I’m
[00:34:45] Mark Hinaman: curious, I wanna press on that. Oh, a little bit. You, you said it could be built faster in the us I mean, if. What comes to mind immediately is, you know, I know there’s coal plants.
I mean, this is near, near and dear to my heart. There’s coal plants that are closing in Northwest Colorado and you know, tri-State and Excel, and their power planning process. I, I guess I’m not confident or bullish that tho that we’re going to adequately replace those with firm dispatchable Load power and Colorado Energy Office is doing a study on this right now.
What? Mm-hmm. What would be the fastest, like, if, if Colorado wanted to replace the Craig and Hayden operating stations with NuScale reactors? Mm-hmm. Is, would you have an estimate on how fast that could happen? I, I don’t know. I dunno if you can answer that.
[00:35:27] Suzie Jaworoski: Yeah, well, if somebody were to sign up on the dotted line today and be able to deploy, we, we could have one built in 28.
So that is, that is realistic. I don’t know if anybody’s gonna proceed doing that, but that timeline’s realistic. Usually you need about two to three years to do your site study with the nuclear regulatory commission. You have to gather Speak environmental data. So wind seismic data, all about the site, and have that characterized by the Nuclear regulatory Commission.
You’ll have an application to go through, so that’s like three to four years right there. And then another three years for building the, the building of the plant is, is only a three year process. So, you know, given the right constructor and given the right financing and given the right motivated purchaser.
That is a realistic timeframe today. So, we, we could deliver that mean you run
[00:36:18] Mark Hinaman: those processes in parallel, right. That you would do the site study and then start manufacturing midway through the site study, so, correct. Well, that’s great.
[00:36:27] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, you know, your insight is right on, on target because I’ve interviewed a lot of CEOs of investor owned utilities and also rural electric co-ops municipalities and those that are closing down coal plants. I ask them, you know, what, what are you gonna do to replace the generation? And always the answer is solar.
Solar battery, often wind, sometimes gas peaking. Then always buying off the I S O marketplace. Well then when you talk to the ISOs, they know that they’re not gonna have the excess generation, because even here in Indiana, we’re going to be in the next 10 years closing 10,000 megawatts of power.
10 gigawatts of power. That’s a lot we used on a cat peak day in the summer, 27 gigawatts of power. So we’re taking away. A little over a third, less than half of the power, and replacing it with mostly intermittent sources. And so everybody knows that sooner or later they’re gonna have to deploy some nuclear or natural gas as a, probably a bridge fuel.
But your, your analogy is right and that I think is where the concern from a lot of the ISOs are, is that, People aren’t really having a realistic view of what’s gonna be available for generation. And so that’s why I’m urging people. I just wrote an article with a good friend of mine Jim Merritt, he’s the former utility chair for the state senate in Indiana.
We wrote an article together about this concept of we need to think bigger and building our infrastructure for electricity because we’re gonna need it.
[00:38:01] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, love that.
[00:38:02] Suzie Jaworoski: Let me go down the path of applications. When I first started working for NuScale, I focused only on utilities that are closing coal plant. Makes sense, right? I wanna get to know all the utilities that are closing coal plants, just so that they know about nuclear as an option.
They know what new skill is. They know that NuScale’s ready to deploy. But then we very quickly started to run into opportunities where it’s not just replacing coal, it’s also looking at it as an economic development asset. So in some scenarios, you’re looking at either an SMR Clean Energy Hub. Then building all these heavy energy users around it.
Steel manufacturers, auto manufacturers, digital currency developers data centers, semiconductors, any of those large scale users of electricity who, if they, they all have carbon neutral or carbon reduction goals. They want low carbon or no carbon sources. And so we’re starting to see, and when you have this hub concept, A lot of investors and developers are very interested in that and they can see the opportunity for making a lot of money on those.
So it started off as just coal replacement and now it’s going to much more as an economic development part of the next phase of industry and manufacturing. And so the, the way we’re selling these plants, it has really evolved.
[00:39:24] Mark Hinaman: How long do you think it’ll take for a customer base to be grown? You’re saying you’re seeing a lot of interest, but I mean, in, in a year you’re gonna have more orders than you can stand or in five years?
[00:39:36] Suzie Jaworoski: I think realistically over the next three years, we’ll start to have a lot of orders and then once the first one is really built, That’s when we’ll be at the point where we have more orders than we can take.
And then likely there’ll be more people who’ve gone through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in five years or so. And so there’ll be more options, of course. I think NuScale is the very best. But you know, I think, I think we’re gonna see a major influx of these, you know, orders in the next three years and deployment in the next seven.
And then once that happens, there’ll be, that’ll become really, The way to build clean energy in the future.
[00:40:17] Mark Hinaman: I love it. Well, we had a lot of questions scripted for you about Indiana. ’cause that’s, that’s where you live and it’s your home state. So I just kind of give an open-ended question. You know, I know NuScale’s a big part of your work, but bring it close to home.
How, how do you see the future of kind of Indiana’s energy future and how’s that integrated with, with just this conversation?
[00:40:37] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, I think Indiana’s energy future is bright. The legislature has taken a very proactive role on innovative resourcing. We’ve just recently changed legislation on a couple of different really important fronts.
I. One was we changed the state code to include nuclear. It was called the SMR bill. And it says basically that if you have an existing coal or gas plant, that you wanna transition to a small modular reactor, that you can do that under the code and have put in the infrastructure to do that. And the other important legislation was changing the state to be from a lowest cost regulator, like, That they’d have to, the utilities would have to choose the lowest cost option to being a state that had to take into consideration cost.
The environmental impact overall affordability to the environment or the economic environment, but also sustainability and reliability. So that opens the gate to much more advanced technologies that will be here for a long, long time that can bring load sources. And so Indiana is very bullish on nuclear, on small modular reactors.
And even there’s a hub, hydrogen hub. Project that’s located here in Indiana, but it includes both Michigan and Illinois. And the hydrogen will come from nuclear. And so, I’m proud of what the state has done. Of course, the utilities are all very interested and have been studying SMRs and new skills for quite some time now.
And I think, I hope that. Indiana will be one of the first states, if not the first state to deploy utility side SMR. So, we’ll, we’ll see, but I think we’re gonna be right up there.
[00:42:20] Mark Hinaman: That’s exciting. That, that hydrogen hub, is that one of the four identified with the I R A?
[00:42:25] Suzie Jaworoski: Yes. Yeah, they are they are applying for a funding opportunity through the US Department of Energy for that hydrogen hub.
Common. Cool. Yeah. It includes some really robust partners like Cummins and BP and some, some utility duke Energy. So it’s, it’s some really impressive partners that are putting that together. I think it’s gonna come to fruition.
[00:42:51] Mark Hinaman: Super exciting.
Okay, so Suzie, how, how do we build more nuclear in the us?
What’s the number one step that we can take? I know that’s an integral part of NuScale business, and you as a Yeah. Energy, I’ll call you an energy expert. Right. At this point what, what’s your perspective on how we can build more?
[00:43:09] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, I think getting the first one built is crucial. I think from any company that’s got a design, they would all agree.
We all agree. Getting the first one built is crucial. But some of the other things that we need to do is educate people about the reality of advanced nuclear and what it is so that there’s not that fear factor, kinda legacy fear factor. And I think, you know, it’s also has to be a commitment that we see through because it’s not as fast or as cheap as building some of the other kinds of energy sources.
Now, if you were to build a combined cycle gas plant, You’re gonna be about the same cost of electricity as if you build the nuclear plant. So they’re on par with one another. But you do have to be committed. ’cause it takes about seven years, like I said, to build a plant, but then it’s there for a, a whole generation.
So I think getting the first one built. Awareness and education about the reality of nuclear spreading the word being committed to it, and then continuing to appeal to modern day investors and developers who wanna make that commitment and can see for the long term what the return on investment can be.
So I think if we can bring the communities together, it like, Government, non-government organizations and industry and include citizens so that they don’t worry about it, don’t have a fear, and know about the abundance it’ll bring. If we can come together as a community on that front and have that goal, I think we’ll be able to deploy.
I know we’ll be able to deploy.
[00:44:43] Mark Hinaman: Well, that’s one of the things that we’re trying to accomplish with this podcast is to have those conversations and have ’em reach a broader audience. What else do you think people can do to, to advocate for more nuclear and and a better future?
[00:44:55] Suzie Jaworoski: Well, just like we’re doing today, and when the opportunity comes along, let people know that nuclear really is safe, that nuclear is a carbon free, clean, big power, 24 7 source, and that we need to be aware of this.
We, although I am very optimistic and I know the future’s bright, we are at a tipping point if we don’t continue to build out and to pay attention to our grid and pay attention to our generation. It’s essential. It’s essential for our way of life. And so having people just discuss it, read up on it a little bit, visit some websites.
You know, if you go on YouTube and you look up NuScale power, there are a lot of animations about how the reactor works, and it’s not scary at all, and it doesn’t even look complex. I mean, it’s. Elegant and simplistic in the design, and I think it’s impressive. So I think people having those kinds of conversations and we’re, we’re lucky, you know, and it’s your fingertips in your phone.
You can research something in a few minutes and really get a good idea of what it’s all about. So I hope people will talk about nuclear and embrace it.
[00:46:07] Mark Hinaman: I, I agree. Suzie, the last question for you. What’s your vision of the future?
What’s it look like in 5, 10, 20 years?
[00:46:15] Suzie Jaworoski: Oh, my vision of the future is that if the United States will embrace the technology that we have it’s gonna trickle down to the everyday citizen in a big way. We will have abundant jobs, we will have clean energy. It will make an IM impact on our environment and on our, our economy.
And so I, I think the future is very bright. A lot of these industries that are heavy users should not be pushed away just ’cause they’re heavy electricity users. We’ve found a way to be smart about how to service them and to be savvy. And so I, I think the future will be that the US will start deploying them and then start deploying them very quickly.
And then the rest of the world will get on board. And I think the future is bright because we will have clean carbon free, large scale always on electricity.
[00:47:07] Mark Hinaman: What a great place to leave it. Suzie, thanks so much for your time.
[00:47:11] Suzie Jaworoski: It’s my pleasure. Great to meet you, mark. And just really appreciate everybody that listens to your podcast.