Blanding discusses failure of proposed nuclear power project

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the Blanding City Council got an update on the Bears Ears Marathon and a failed power project, and made an intent to annex resolution at their latest meeting.
Members of the Blanding City Council approved an intent to annex city-owned property on the west side of town at the November 14 meeting.
Currently, city boundaries do not reach the complete end of West Center Street. Blanding City owns property at that end of town and intends to use the property to run pipelines for water connections to 27 lots in the Westwater community.
The city will meter the water sent into Westwater, with Navajo Tribal Utility Authority metering individual lines to bill residents for their usage.
Blanding Community Development Director Bret Hosler explained that under new state protocols, passing the intent to annex resolution will trigger a 30-day notice period, with the council given the ability to approve the annexation after a public hearing.
Blanding Mayor Logan Monson said the 30-day period shouldn’t impact the project as the line is not yet under construction and the line runs on city-owned property.
The 30-day period will include public notices in the newspaper.
Council member Erik Grover raised a question, “It’s already our property, why do we have to have this annexed to have this metering station put in out there?”
When asked directly if the annexation needs to happen in order for the project to move forward, Monson replied with a simple no.
At the October 10 meeting of the council, Monson said the annexation makes the most sense as the line can be put on the end of the city-owned property.
At the November 14 meeting, council member Cheryl Bowers added, “We should want property that we own within city limits.”
Members of the council approved the resolution, with council members Kellen Nielson, Len Gosser, and Bowers voting in favor and council member Grover voting opposing.
At the meeting, members of the council also received an update on the failure of the Carbon Free Power Project.
Blanding City is a member of the Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS), the group has been working with NuScale Power corp to build a nuclear power plant in Idaho.
The project had been in the works, with involvement from the US Department of Energy, but an inability to get more power subscribers signed up for the project ended the group’s work and the end of the Carbon Free Power Project.
While the project wasn’t scheduled to provide power until at least 2029, Blanding City and UAMPS are working to find replacements for their future power portfolio.
The city will get a reimbursement for its financial investment in the project, although Monson didn’t know the exact dollar amount.
Monson said the Carbon Free Power Project should open doors for future innovations and make the next project easier. However, Bowers is less positive on the outlook.
“To me that’s not positive, that’s a lot of wasted money, with a lot of promises that weren’t kept. I don’t think it’s very positive.”
Members of the council also received a report on the November 4 Bears Ears Marathon.
Blanding Economic Development Director Ben Muhlestein reported that 158 runners participated in the Boston Marathon-qualifier in an event that made money for the city with positive reviews.
Muhlestein reports next year they won’t have first-year costs. The hope is to see higher participation, which would mean more revenue for the event.
“It’s not just the money that we make as a city, but a lot of that money gets spread around to different businesses,” said Muhlestein. “They eat at the restaurants, they stay at the hotels, things like that.”
Bowers said her hotel is usually empty on that weekend but they were fully booked for the marathon.

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